Maria Sklodowska-Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland on the 7th November 1867. When she was 12 her mother died of tuberculosis, her father who was a teacher raised Marie and her sister. When Marie left school aged 15, she wanted to go to university to study science, but only men were allowed! She moved to Paris in 1891 and changed her name to Marie Curie, so she’d fit in better. She enrolled in the Sorbonne University – this is where she met Pierre Currie, a professor, they married in 1895.
The Curie’s soon began experimenting on Uranium, Marie called this research radioactivity, after four years the couple discovered radium – a new element. Pierre Currie and Henri Becquerel were nominated for a Nobel Prize for physics in 1903, but Pierre refused to accept the prize unless Marie was recognized for her work, the committee eventually accepted Marie’s contribution and all 3 shared the award. Pierre was unfortunately killed in a road accident in Paris on the 19th April 1906. Marie was devastated by this and took time out to mourn, eventually she took over Pierre‘s role at the Sorbonne University as professor and went on to be awarded another Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in Chemistry for her work discovering Polonium, which she named after her homeland Poland. To this day she is the only person to be awarded two Nobel prizes in two different sciences!
On the 3rd August 1914 Germany declared war on France, many fled Paris but Marie stayed, and when she found out that the entire French army had only 1 x-ray station, she came up with the idea of mobile x-ray units! Marie taught herself to drive and drove the units risking her life to aid the French army, by the end of the war Marie’s units had treated over a million wounded soldiers.
After the war Marie continued her work in Paris and went on to set up a new radium institute in Warsaw. On the 4th July 1934 Marie Curie died aged 67. In 1995 her body along with Pierre’s was relocated to the Panthéon in Paris in honour of their achievements, they were given a full state funeral.
For more information on The Nobel Prize Awards and the founder Alfred Nobel, I wrote a small piece on the topic which can be found here
Source – BBC – The Genius of Marie Curie – link