Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 773
Henri Becquerel (1852–1908) was a French physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for physics with Marie and Pierre Curie in 1903 for his work on radioactivity. Becquerel is credited with the first discovery of radioactivity, in 1896, but the signifi- cance of his discovery was not made apparent until the Curies discovered the radioactive materials polonium and radium.
Pierre Curie’s father is referred to in Madame Curie as Dr. Curie. Upon the death of his wife, Dr. Curie came to live with Marie and Pierre Curie in Paris, becoming a caretaker for their daughters. After the death of Pierre in 1906, Dr. Curie continued to live with Marie and her daughters until his death in 1910.
Eve Curie was the second child of Marie and Pierre Curie. Although the only member of her immediate family who did not win at least one Nobel Prize, Eve Curie distinguished herself with the publication of her now classic biography of her mother. As a child, she took little interest in the family preoccupation with science, preferring the study of music, and she had an early career in journalism.
Irene Curie (1896–1956) was the first child of Marie and Pierre Curie. As a teenager, she began to assist her mother in the laboratory and was given an official position as an assistant to Marie Curie at the Radium Institute in 1918. Irene received her doctoral degree in 1925. Her thesis was based on research on the alpha rays of polonium. That year she married Frédéric Joliot, who also worked at the Radium Institute. The couple collaborated on research and were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935 for their discovery that radioactive material could be artificially produced.
Marie Curie was born Maria Sklodowska in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, then part of the Russian empire. Soon after graduating from high school, she worked as a governess for several years, before moving to Paris to attend the university. She earned her first master’s degree, in physics, in 1893, and her second master’s, in mathematics, in 1894. In 1895, she married Pierre Curie, who soon began collaborating with her in the effort to isolate radioactive materials, which they later named polonium and radium. In 1903, Marie shared the Nobel Prize for physics with her husband and Henri Becquerel for their work on radioactivity. She was personally devastated when Pierre was tragically killed in 1906, leaving her with two daughters. However, she was given his position as professor at the Sorbonne and continued to do important research on radioactivity for almost thirty years after his death. In 1911, she won the Nobel Prize for chemistry. The later years of her life were spent as director of the Radium Institute in Paris, which had been established as a laboratory for her many students and assistants. She died in 1934 from leukemia she had acquired as a result of her years of exposure to radioactivity.
Pierre Curie (1859–1906) was the husband of Marie Curie, as well as her scientific collaborator and co-winner of the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics. He met Marie in 1894 and married her in 1895. Also in 1895, he completed his Ph.D. When Marie chose a topic for her own dissertation, Pierre immediately realized the significance of the work and dropped his own experiments in order to assist her in isolat-
Bronya was Marie Curie’s older sister. As a young adult, Marie worked as a governess to support Bronya’s education at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris. Bronya married Casimir Dluski, a doctor. In 1891, Marie came to Paris to live with Bronya and her husband while attending the Sorbonne. Years later, Bronya and Casimir moved to Galicia in order to start a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Carpathian mountains. Bronya was instrumental in the planning of the...
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