Marie Curie Essay, Research Paper
Marie Curie was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867. She was actually born to the name Marja Sklodowska. When she was 24, she went to Paris where she changed her name to Marie and started school in Sorbonne. In 1893, she received her degree in physics. When she needed a lab to experiment in, a Professor Kovalski said that there might be space in the School of Physics and Chemistry. He also said that Pierre Curie, a scientist there might be able to help her. She had heard of Pierre and thought he was a genius. When she met him, they worked together for awhile and he fell in love with her. When she had to leave to go to Warsaw he begged her to come back and she did. They married the year after they met on July 26. After they married, Marie became weak and always tired. He thought she was ailing tuberculoses, which her mother died from, but she refused to go into a hospital.
It came time for Marie to begin thinking of her thesis subject. She decided to base it on the nature of radiation. She received a little glassed in studio in the School of Physics to experiment in. She wondered if any other elements besides uranium or thorium emitted rays. She then discovered an element that had more radioactivity than any other element. When Pierre heard this, he decided to stop his work on magnetism to help his wife.
For four years Marie and Pierre concentrated on extracting the pitchblende from uranium that had more radioactivity than uranium itself. They then knew that the radioactive element which was more intense than uranium had to be in this pitchblende. After long research they discovered that two fractions of the ore were especially radioactive which meant there were two new elements. She named them radium and polonium. Polonium was named after Poland. They kept trying to isolate the elements but the pitchblende cost more money then they could afford. Marie wrote a letter to a mine in Bohemia where uranium was extracted from pitchblende, in which she offered a moderate price for the pitchblende. After they got the pitchblende they started working in a little shed. For a few years they extracted the radium and polonium from the pitchblende. It was discovered that radium was stronger than the other element polonium. Finally, they purified 1 gram of radium. One night, Marie and Pierre walked into the shed when it was very dark. They saw the radium salts glowing in the dark. Working with the radium proved to be dangerous to Marie. Due to the overexposure to radioactivity, the skin on her hands peeled off. The Curies decided not to patent their process of purifying radium. Marie thought it really belonged to the world, and not just them. In 1903, the Nobel Prize was given half to the Curies and half to Becquerel who had discovered X rays in 1895. Marie was the first woman recipient of a Nobel Prize. The Curie family received a prize of 70,000 francs. Marie had also won half of the Osiris Prize for which she received 25,000 francs. The family gave the money to different friends and family, but it never occured to Marie to spend any money on herself.
Pierre was assigned to the Chair of Physics so they gave him two rooms and three laboratory assistants. Marie was to be the chief of laboratory work and paid a salary. Marie donated the gram of radium to the laboratory.
In April 1906, Pierre was killed. He was crossing the street when he was run over by a horse drawn cart. He was buried in Sceaux, near his mother.
After Pierre died, the question of who would take his place in the Chair of Physics was raised. The Curie children convinced the head of the Sorbonne faculty to allow Marie to take his place.
Marie than established her own school. She was not satisfied with the other schools, which influenced her to head one. The children loved the classes because Marie knew how to make a lesson fun. The school only lasted two years.
In the following years, she isolated another kind of radium salt. She received the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She is the only person to have this honor twice. Twenty-four years later, her daughter Irene received a Nobel Prize too.
A group of scientists made plans for a laboratory of radioactivity in Warsaw and asked Marie to come back to Poland to be its director. She refused, and put two colleagues in charge. Later, 400,000 francs were collected to build an Institute of Radium. Marie would direct the laboratory of radioactivity.
On August 1, 1914 Germany declared war on France. Since there was no on in the laboratories because everyone joined the armed forces, Marie decided to help out hospitals. She organized many X ray rooms in the hospitals and helped a million men.
As she grew older, her eyesight grew worse. She had an operation for cataracts, then gained perfect vision.
Soon after her operation, she wanted a radium institute for medical research and the treatment of cancer. A fund was raised to start the institute, and she received a gram of radium for it.
One day she knew she had a fever so she went home. Doctors thought it might be bronchitis, but it was something more serious. Her fever disappeared but she died on July 4, 1934.