Curie, Marie (Warsaw, 1867 – Sallanches, France, 1934) and Curie, Pierre (Paris, 1859 – Paris, 1906)
Marriage of French chemists. She, Polish by birth, Marie Sklodowska, was trained in her native country and in 1891 she went to Paris to further her studies at the Sorbonne. She graduated from the university in 1893, and received her doctorate ten years later. Shortly after her arrival in France, she met the French physicist Pierre Curie, whom she married in 1895. The fruit of this union would be her two daughters, Ève and Irène.
Marie was initially a professor at the Normal School for Women in Sèvres (1900), and then Pierre Curie's assistant in his laboratory from 1904. Upon succeeding her husband, on his death, in his position as professor at the University of The Sorbonne became the first woman to occupy a position of these characteristics in France.
Pierre Curie, a graduate from the Sorbonne and a doctorate in 1895 from the same university, had been appointed professor at this institution in 1900. Before beginning his collaboration with Marie, he worked in the field of crystallography in collaboration with his brother, discovering piezoelectricity (1880).
In 1895 he verified that ferromagnetic bodies become paramagnetic from a certain temperature known today as the "Curie point". He determined the relationship between paramagnetism and temperature (Curie's law) and established the difference between paramagnetism and diamagnetism. He is also responsible for the invention of a torsion balance, known as the Curie-Chèneveau balance, which allows high-precision weighing.
In 1896 he began collaborating with his wife in the study of radioactivity, discovered by the French physicist H. Becquerel, work that would lead to the discovery of the existence of two new elements in 1898: polonium, a name given to it gave in remembrance of Marie's homeland, and the radio. The difficulty of these studies is evident if one takes into account that to obtain a single gram of pure radium chloride, the couple had to treat eight tons of the mineral known as pitchblende.
From then on, Marie concentrated on obtaining metallic radium, which she achieved in collaboration with A. Debierne, while Pierre studied the chemical, physiological and luminous properties of radioactive emissions, which he classified, according to their charge, as positive (alpha rays), neutral (gamma rays) and negative (beta rays).
After Pierre's death, Marie continued the work and founded the Radium Institute (1914), in which she carried out an in-depth study of the applications of X-rays and radioactivity in fields such as medicine, and achieved obtaining numerous radioactive substances with various applications. Among the samples of this collection, the one that, in 1921, she gave to the president of the United States, Harding, stands out, which had been financed with voluntary contributions from innumerable women of the American country.
The Curie spouses were awarded in 1903, together with H. Becquerel, the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of radioactivity. Eight years later, she Marie she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in recognition of her work that allowed her to isolate metallic radium, with which she became the first person in history to win the award twice.
His daughter, Irène, married to the French physicist Frédéric Joliot, Marie Curie's assistant since 1925, continued her studies in the field of radioactivity and discovered, in 1934, in collaboration with her husband, the existence of so-called artificial radioactivity.