From the first woman professor to the first woman to receive a nobel prize Marie Curie was able to change the way women were viewed in the science community forever, and was able to be a role model for thousands of women in many years following her death.
With her discovery of Radium and the effects of radiation there have been leaps and bounds in the advances towards the cure of cancer and treatments for it. Even with everything against her, Marie Curie was able to be the most impactful women in the history of science because of all of her accomplishments. Maria Sklodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7th, 1867. Maria was only eight when tragedy first struck her life, her older sister caught typhus and died.
Only three years after that, her mother, Madame Sklodowska, at the age of 42 died after a five year battle with tuberculosis. Later on in life she lost her husband to a freak accident as well. The only people she still had in her life that she was very close with were her father, Professor Sklodowski, and her siblings Joseph, Bronya and Hela.Marie was the brightest is her class. Her personal losses did not affect her academic life negatively at all. However, when she graduated at the age of 15 she was not allowed to attend the medical school at the University of Warsaw-because they did not allow women- where she wished to get an advanced degree. She then attended Sorbonne where she quickly realized that was nowhere near as advanced in math, science, and french as her fellow students were. However, she persisted, through hard work and motivation.
“Marie finished first in her master’s degree physics course in the summer of 1893 and second in math the following year”(Gingo 2000). Even being as poor as she was, Marie was able to study. One of her professors saw her potential and was able to get her a scholarship to continue studying. That was when she moved to France and met her future husband, Pierre Curie. “In Marie, Pierre found an equal with a comparable devotion to science. They would soon marry and have two daughters” (Gingo 2000).
They worked together in Pierre’s lab, where he gave Marie her own space.Together the Curies work and research with radium would receive a Nobel Prize in 1903. The Curies then published all the processes that went into isolating Radium and didn’t put a patent on any of it, showing how truly generous they were and how they really just wanted to better society. Radium was a hug success and many people began studying it, “On November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen at the University of Würzburg, discovered a new kind of radiation which he called X-rays”(Gingo 2000). This new discovery of X-rays was incredible people believe Roentgen to be insane. But his discovery opened up a whole new method of viewing the inside of a body, which led to the invention of CT scans and the ability to spot cancer within a patient.
This discovery affected millions of people and is still affecting people today and will continue for times to come.Another huge part of Maries success was her discovery that thorium gave off the same rays as uranium, which led to her continued systematic studies of the various chemical compounds that “Gave the surprising result that the strength of the radiation did not depend on the compound that was being studied. It depended only on the amount of uranium or thorium” (Froman 1996). After another few months of work, the Curies informed the l’Académie des Sciences, on December 26, 1898, that they had demonstrated strong grounds for having come upon an additional very active substance that behaves chemically almost like pure barium. They suggested the name of radium for the new element.