Marie Curie: A Life by Susan QuinnA touching three-dimensional portrait of the Polish-born scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner (Kirkus) Madame Curie, the discoverer of radium and radioactivity
One hundred years ago, Marie Curie discovered radioactivity, for which she won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1911 she won an unprecedented second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry, for isolating new radioactive elements. Despite these achievements, or perhaps because of her fame, she has remained a saintly, unapproachable genius. From family documents and a private journal only recently made available, Susan Quinn at last tells the full human story. From the stubborn sixteen-year-old studying science at night while working as a governess, to her romance and scientific partnership with Pierre Curie-an extraordinary marriage of equals-we feel her defeats as well as her successes: her rejection by the French Academy, her unbearable grief at Pierres untimely and gruesome death, and her retreat into a love affair with a married fellow scientist, causing a scandal which almost cost her the second Nobel Prize. In Susan Quinns fully dimensional portrait, we come at last to know this complicated, passionate, brilliant woman.
With her husband Pierre Curie , Marie's efforts led to the discovery of polonium and radium and, after Pierre's death, the further development of X-rays. Her father, Wladyslaw, was a math and physics instructor. When she was only 10, Curie lost her mother, Bronislawa, to tuberculosis. As a child, Curie took after her father. She had a bright and curious mind and excelled at school. But despite being a top student in her secondary school, Curie could not attend the men's-only University of Warsaw. She instead continued her education in Warsaw's "floating university," a set of underground, informal classes held in secret.
Battle of Britain
She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. In , she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne where she obtained Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical Sciences. She met Pierre Curie, Professor in the School of Physics in and in the following year they were married. She succeeded her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, gained her Doctor of Science degree in , and following the tragic death of Pierre Curie in , she took his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences, the first time a woman had held this position. Her early researches, together with her husband, were often performed under difficult conditions, laboratory arrangements were poor and both had to undertake much teaching to earn a livelihood. Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in particular.
She was the sole winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and she is the only woman to win the award in two different fields. In they won the Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering radioactivity. In she won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for isolating pure radium. Following work on X-rays during World War I, she studied radioactive substances and their medical applications. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win the award in two different fields.