Madame Curie was one of the FIRST WOMAN scientists and one of the GREAT SCIENTISTS of the 20th Century. She discovered radium and paved the way to nuclear physics and cancer therapy. Madame Curie fought chauvinism, prejudices, sexism and plain stupidity of those who tried to stop her advancements in science.
Madame Curie was born Maria Sklodowska on Nov. 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. Maria went to Paris, France to study at the Sarbonne and obtained Licenciateships in Physics and Math Sciences, where she met Pierre Curie, who was the Professor in the School of Physics. They were married in 1895. Maria, now MADAME CURIE received her Doctor of Science Degree and after Pierre Curies death, she became the first woman Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences.
Handling minerals, Madame Curie noticed that Thorium was “RADIOACTIVE” – a termed Madame Curie had coined. She had discovered along with her husband that RADIOACTIVITY was NOT the result of a chemical reaction, but a property of the element, or more specifically of the ATOM.
Pierre tested radium on his skin, which caused a burn. They realized radiums effect on humans and Madame Curie developed methods to separate radium from radioactive residues to study it’s therapeutic properties. RADIUM BEGAN TO BE USED TO TREAT MALIGNANT TUMORS. Madame Curie and Pierre Curie won the NOBEL PRIZE for Physics in 1903 for their study of radium. Madame Curie also received the NOBEL PRIZE for Chemistry in 1911 for her study of radioactivity.
Madame Curie had to FIGHT the STUPIDITY and PREJUDICES of her time, which included CHAUVINISM and SEXISM. In 1910 Madame Curie competed for membership in the Academy of Sciences, an institution that had a huge effect on the direction of French Science. The Academy of Sciences was an ALL-MALE society. A coalition of conservatives, Catholics, chauvinists, misogynists and anti-Semites went on a VICIOUS ATTACK to DEFEAT Madame Curie. It was predicted that the members would NOT defy the Napoleonic code and elect a woman.
On January 11, 1911 the Excelsior magazine (pictured above) printed on its front page what looked like a police mug shot of Madame Curie, which was part of a successful campaign to prevent her from entering the Academy of Sciences. In 1911 Madame Curie LOST her bid for membership in the Academy of Sciences. She was furious and never tried to join again. It took until 1979 for those chauvinists to even ACCEPT A WOMAN.
After having been exposed in her research to incredible levels of radiation, Madame Curie developed leukemia and died on July 4, 1934 in France. HER RESEARCH WORK COST HER HER LIFE.
Madame Curie was the ONLY WOMAN laid to rest along side Victor Hugo and other great figures under the famous dome of the Pantheon in Paris for her own merits.