A Smile for Marie Curie on Her Birthday

Education People Technology

Today is the birthday of Marie Curie, one of the most famous and ground-breaking woman scientists in history. 2012 also marks the 101st anniversary of the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Marie Curie. Has there ever been a scientist as courageous as Madam Curie?

Marie Curie was not afraid to take risks. Her forceful character led her to a level of independence unusual for her time. In France during this period, gifted women were scorned and looked down upon. When studying in Paris Curie lived alone for three years. This life she wrote later, gave her a sense of liberty and independence. The period gave her the strength of character she needed to undergo the immense labor necessary to concentrate uranium in order to study radium.

Curie was nearly fearless in her drive to discover. She discovered two of the most dangerous elements in the world: radium and polonium. Polonium is extremely toxic – by mass, 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide. She worked in primitive X-ray rooms to help save wounded WWI soldiers. For her trouble she was poisoned by radiation and Curie’s death was almost certainly related to radiation exposure.

I tried to find a photo of Mme. Curie with a smile on her face. Evidently, she’s not much of a smiler, but still, she’s an inspiration to Geeks worldwide.

[This post is adapted from a previous piece by William Gurstelle, author of The Practical Pyromaniac and Backyard Ballistics.]

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!