Marie Skłodowska was a great woman born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867. Who, you ask? Like many women both great and otherwise, she became known by her husband’s name, and achieved her greatest success in a different country, and today we celebrate
NATIONAL MARIE CURIE DAY!
Not only was Marie Curie the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize for science, but the first scientist to win Nobel Prizes in two different scientific disciplines, Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.
She worked as a governess to put her sister through school, was largely self-taught and also a student of the clandestine Floating University of Poland, until her admission to the University of Paris, where she eked out a living tutoring at night until she received her degree in Physics.
She then got a job with her future husband and co-Nobelist in Physics, Pierre Curie, in the new field of study, Radiology. Upon his untimely death from a vehicle accident in 1906, Marie Curie became the first woman to chair a science department at a Major University when she was offered Pierre’s Physics Chair at the Pasteur Institute at the University of Paris.
Madame Curie would go on to win another Nobel Prize, this one in Chemistry, for discovering 2 radioactive elements, have a famous love affair with a younger married man, work as an X-ray technician in World War 1 field hospitals, and become of one of the major scientists of all time before succumbing in 1934 to the long-term effects of the radiation that was her life’s work. A giant of science and humanitarianism.
•Suggested Activities: Teaching your daughter some science.