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Marie Curie

Marie Curie in about 1920Marie Curie in about 1920 Marie Curie (1867–1934) was a pioneering scientist in an age when it was unusual for a woman to be a scientist at all. She is remembered today for her work with her husband Pierre Curie on radioactivity, especially the discovery of two radioactive elements, radium and polonium, and the use of radioactivity in the treatment of cancer. Marie Curie also played an important part in developing the use of X-rays, especially during World War I. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, and the only woman to have to have won in two different fields, physics and chemistry.

Maria Sklodowska at 16 years old Maria Sklodowska at 16 years old

Early life

Maria Sklodowska was born on 7th November 1867, in Warsaw, Poland. She was the youngest of five children. Her parents were teachers and enthusiastic about education, making sure both their sons and daughters were taught well. When Maria was just 11 years old, her mother died.

Wladyslaw Sklodowski and his daughtersWladyslaw Sklodowski and his daughters Maria continued to do well at school, but as she grew up she faced the problem of how to go to university. Poland was ruled by Russia at the time, and the Russians made it a rule that the University of Warsaw should not accept women. So Maria and her sister, Bronislawa ("Bronia") decided they would have to continue their studies abroad.

After a long struggle to raise the money, both settled in Paris, where Bronia become a doctor and Maria, now Marie, the French version of her name, enrolled at the Sorbonne, Paris's university. She was the first woman to study physics there. Two years later she graduated with the highest marks in her class. A year later, she gained a degree in mathematics.

Paris and marriage

Before Marie went to Paris, she and her sister studied at a secret, unofficial academy for women in Warsaw. It was called the "floating" university because it kept having to move its premises from one place to another to avoid discovery.

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