Marie Curie (1867-1934) was an expert in physics, chemistry and radioactivity. She was also the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and then was awarded a second.
Marie Salomea Sklodowska was born in Warsaw Poland. Her father was a
math and physics teacher and atheist. Her mother was a teacher,
operated a boarding school, and was Catholic. Four-year-old Marie
taught herself how to read Russian and French and was known to help
her four brothers and sisters with their math homework. It was also
at age four that she began demonstrate her incredible memory.
As a teenager, Marie was anxious to attend college, but her family
couldn’t afford it so she spent five grueling years earning money as
a governess. In 1891 she headed for the Sorbonne in Paris. There,
she met future husband Pierre Curie. While there, she discovered the
radioactive elements radium and polonium (She named it after her
native Poland). Later, she became the first woman professor at the
In her thirties, Marie worked closely with her husband, and together
they devised the science of radioactivity (she named the term
radioactivity), for which they were awarded a Nobel Prize in
physics. They had two children Irene and Eve. After Pierre’s death
in 1906, Marie continued her work, winning her second Nobel, in
chemistry at age 44.
It has been determined that Marie contracted aplastic anemia from
all of her time spent with radiation which, at that point, had no
dangers associated with it. She died from it in 1934.