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Marie Curie

 Marie Curie, née Sklodowska

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903

Born: 7 November 1867, Warsaw, Russian Empire (now Poland)

Died: 4 July 1934, Sallanches, France

Prize motivation: "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel."

Prize share: 1/4

Also awarded: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1911


Marie Sklodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland into a family of teachers who believed strongly in education. She moved to Paris to continue her studies and there met Pierre Curie, who became both her husband and her colleague in the field of radioactivity. The couple later shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie was widowed in 1906 but continued the work of the couple and became the first person to ever receive two Nobel Prizes. During the First World War, Curie organized mobile x-ray teams. The daughter of the Curies, Irene, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together with her husband Frederic Joliot.

Marie Curie


1903 Prize: Henri Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity in 1896 inspired Marie and Pierre Curie to investigate this phenomenon further. They examined many substances and minerals for signs of radioactivity. They found that the mineral pitchblende was more radioactive than uranium and concluded that it must contain other radioactive substances. From this they managed to extract two previously unknown elements, polonium and radium, both of which are more radioactive than uranium.

1911 Prize: After Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium, Marie continued to investigate their properties. In 1910 it successfully produced radium as a pure metal, which proved the existence of the new element beyond any doubt. She also documented the properties of the radioactive elements and their compounds. Radioactive compounds have become important in both scientific experiments and medicine as sources of radiation, where they are used to treat tumors.