Most people have heard of Albert Einstein, but a person who became a friend of his may be less well-known, but she is also a famous scientist. Her name is Marie Curie, who is most known for her work in radiation. She was born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867 where she grew up with her parents and four other children in the family. Marie was also the youngest child. Because both her parents were teachers, Marie learned how to read and write at a very young age. She was intelligent, had an outstanding memory, and worked very hard in school
As Marie grew older there were tough times for her and the family, but she was able to attend a university after graduating from high school, even though it was not something women did during those times. However, she attended a famous university in Paris, France called the Sorbonne where women were permitted to attend. After just three years at the school she earned a degree in Physics. She loved to learn and had always known she wanted to be a scientist.
In 1894, she married Pierre Curie, also a scientist, and a year later they had their first child, a daughter named Irene. Marriage and motherhood did not stop Marie from her work and research as a scientist. She became interested in x-rays which had been recently discovered. Marie decided to do some experiments with the element uranium, which is given off by the rays.
Her husband, Pierre, joined Marie in her experiments. One day she was examining a material called pitchblende and had expected just a few rays to be given off. Instead, there were many extra rays and Marie realized there must have been an undiscovered element in pitchblende. She and her husband spent many more hours in the lab doing investigations with the new element. They ended up discovering there were two new elements which they discovered, adding them to the periodic table.
Maria named one of the elements polonium after her home country, Poland, and the other she named it radium because it gave off so many strong rays. Marie and Pierre Curie came up with the new term 'radioactivity' too, as well to describe elements that emit strong rays.
In 1903, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to both scientists for their work in radiation, and Marie was also the first woman in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize. She did not stop there though, because in 1911, Marie won another Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry, for discovering the two elements, polonium and radium. Not only was she the first woman, but also the first person ever to be awarded two Nobel Prizes. This made her very famous and scientists all over the world wanted to study radioactivity with Marie. Later, doctors found that radiology could help cure cancer.
During World War I, Marie came up with an idea to make x-ray machines more portable and easier to move from place to place. This helped because not every hospital had their own x-ray machine. In addition, she also trained many people on how to use an x-ray machine. These portable machines helped over a million soldiers during the war.
Unfortunately, Marie Curie died in 1934 due to overexposure to radiation from the experiments and from the work she did with x-ray machines. Currently, there are many safety precautions that are used preventing scientists from being overexposed to radiation.
In summary, Marie Curie is a famous physicist known for her work with radiation, and also as the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize and to win two Nobel Prizes in her lifetime.
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