Marie Curie

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Marie Sklodowska, as she was called before marriage, was born in Warsaw in 1867. Both her parents were teachers who believed deeply in the importance of education. Marie had her first lessons in physics and chemistry from her father. She had a brilliant aptitude for study and a great thirst for knowledge; however, advanced study was not possible for women in Poland. Marie dreamed of being able to study at the Sorbonne in Paris, but this was beyond the means of her family. To solve the problem, Marie and her elder sister, Bronya, came to an arrangement: Marie should go to work as a governess and help her sister with the money she managed to save so that Bronya could study medicine at the Sorbonne. When Bronya had taken her degree she, in her turn, would contribute to the cost of Marie's studies. Now, however, there occurred an event that was to be of decisive importance in her life. She met Pierre Curie. He was 35 years, eight years older, and an internationally known physicist, but an outsider in the French scientific community - a serious idealist and dreamer whose greatest wish was to be able to devote his life to scientific work. Marie, too, was an idealist; though outwardly shy and retiring, she was in reality energetic and single-minded. Pierre and Marie immediately discovered an intellectual affinity, which was very soon transformed into deeper feelings. In July 1895, they were married at the town hall at Sceaux, where Pierre's parents lived. Their life was otherwise quietly monotonous, a life filled with work and study. Persuaded by his father and by Marie, Pierre submitted his doctoral thesis in 1895. It concerned various types of magnetism, and contained a presentation of the connection between temperature and magnetism that is now known as Curie's Law. In 1896, Marie passed her teacher's diploma, coming first in her group. Deciding after a time to go on doing research, Marie looked around for a subject for a doctoral thesis. Marie decided to make a systematic investigation of the mysterious 'uranium rays'. She had an excellent aid at her disposal - an electrometer for the measurement of weak electrical currents, which was constructed by Pierre and his brother, and was based on the piezoelectric effect. In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded half the .. In a letter to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, Pierre explains that neither of them is able to come to Stockholm to receive the prize. They could not get away because of their teaching obligations. He adds, 'Mme Curie has been ill this summer and is not yet completely recovered'. That was certainly true but his own health was no better. The health of both Marie and Pierre C

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