“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
“I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.”
“My husband and I were so closely united by our affection and our common work that we passed nearly all of our time together.”
“All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.”
“Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit.”
“Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”
“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.”
“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”
“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”
“I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”
“A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.”
“There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.”
Albert Einstein’s high esteem for Marie Curie:
“Not only did she do outstanding work in her lifetime, and not only did she help humanity greatly by her work, but she invested all her work with the highest moral quality. All of this she accomplished with great strength, objectivity, and judgment. It is very rare to find all of these qualities in one individual.”
Marie Curie Biography
Marie Curie was a Polish scientist who won a Nobel Prize in both Chemistry and Physics. She was the first female professor of the University of Paris, and made ground-breaking work in the field of Radioactivity.
Marya Sklodovska was the youngest of 5 children, born in 1867, Warsaw Poland. She was brought up in a poor but well educated family, excelled in her studies and won many prizes. Unusually for women at that time, she took an interest in Chemistry and Biology. She aspired to teach fellow Polish woman who mostly lacked education opportunity. Since opportunities in Poland for further study was limited, she went to Paris, where after working as a governess she was able to study at the Sorbonne, Paris, to get a degree in Physics finish top and later got a degree in Mathematics, finishing second in her school year.
She met Pierre Curie, who was then chief of the laboratory at the school of Physics and Chemistry. He was a renowned Chemist, who fell in love with the young Marya and asked her to marry him. The two would later become inseparable, until Pierre’s untimely death.
Marie Curie work on Radioactivity
Marie pursued studies in radioactivity. In 1898, this led to the discovery of two new elements. One of which she named polonium after her home country.
There then followed 4 years of extensive study into the properties of radium. Radium was discovered to have remarkable impacts. Marie actually suffered burns from the rays. It was from this discovery of radium and its properties that the science of radiation was able to develop. The Curries agreed to give away their secret freely; they did not wish to patent such a valuable element. The element was soon in high demand and it began industrial scale production. For their discovery they were awarded the Davy Medal (Britain) and the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903.
In 1905, Pierre was killed in a road accident, leaving Marie to look after the laboratory and her 2 children. In 1911 Marie Curie was awarded a second Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of actinium and further studies on radium and polonium.
The success of this exceptionally outstanding woman, Marie Curie, brought an onslaught of male opposition: considerable hostility, criticism and suspicion and she suffered from the malicious rumors and accusations that flew around. But this persecution had not stopped Marie Curie to continue to focus on completing her self-less assignment-contribution on earth as a woman scientist.
The onset of World War I in 1914, led to Marie Curie dedicating her time to the installation of X ray machines in hospitals, to easily locate shrapnel, enabling better treatment for soldiers. By the end of the First World War, over a million soldiers had been examined by her X ray units. At the end of the First World War she returned to the Institute of Radium in Paris, and served the League of Nations. She also published a book – radioactivity which encompassed her great ideas on science.
Marie Curie died aged 66 on July 4, 1934, killed by aplastic anemia, a disease of the bone marrow. It is thought that the radioactivity she had been exposed to cause the disease. Scientists are now much more cautious in their handling of radioactive elements and X-rays.
Marie Curie pushed back many frontiers in science; and at the same time set a new bar for female academic and scientific achievement.
Meeting Pierre Curie (quoted from Marie Curie)
“As I entered the room, Pierre Curie was standing in the recess of a French window opening on a balcony. He seemed to me very young, though he was at that time thirty-five years old. I was struck by the open expression of his face and by the slight suggestion of detachment in his whole attitude. His speech, rather slow and deliberate, his simplicity, and his smile, at once grave and youthful, inspired confidence. We began a conversation which soon became friendly. It first concerned certain scientific matters about which I was very glad to be able to ask his opinion. Then we discussed certain social and humanitarian subjects which interested us both. There was, between his conceptions and mine, despite the difference between our native countries, a surprising kinship, no doubt attributable to a certain likeness in the moral atmosphere in which we were both raised by our families.”
“During the year 1894 Pierre Curie wrote me letters that seem to me admirable in their form. No one of them was very long, for he had the habit of concise expression, but all were written in a spirit of sincerity and with an evident anxiety to make the one he desired as a companion know him as he was…. It is appropriate to quote here a few lines which express how he looked on the possibility of our marriage:
“We have promised each other (is it not true?) to have, the one for the other, at least a great affection. Provided that you do not change your mind! For there are no promises which hold; these are things that do not admit of compulsion.
“It would, nevertheless, be a beautiful thing in which I hardly dare believe, to pass through life together hypnotized in our dreams: your dream for your country; our dream for humanity; our dream for science. Of all these dreams, I believe the last, alone, is legitimate. I mean to say by this that we are powerless to change the social order. Even if this were not true we should not know what to do…. From the point of view of science, on the contrary, we can pretend to accomplish something. The territory here is more solid and obvious, and however small it is, it is truly in our possession.””