MARIE CURIEBy: Caitlin
OVERVIEW
  • studied uranium and thorium
    • called their spontaneous decay process radioactivity
  • she and her husband, Pierre Curie, also discovered radioactive elements
    • polonium and radium
    • "It was like trying to create something out of nothing..."
                • Marie Curie


FAMILY
  • mother ran a school in their househer father teaches high school science
    • the Russians wanted to wipe out the Polish past and replace it with Russian culture
    • Marie's mother was teaching Polish history behind the scenes
  • five children
    • four daughters (including Marie) and one son
    • Hela, Bronya, Sophie, Marie, and Joseph
  • one of her sisters (Sophie) dies when Marie is eight
  • Marie's mother dies when she is ten
  • Marie's father then cares for his children and teaches them to encourage and support one another
  • Appearance
    • curly blond hair, gray eyes, high cheekbones, broad forehead

HER LIFE
  • born on November 7,1867
    • Warsaw, Poland
  • made pact with her sister Bronya
    • Marie worked as governess (cared for children)
    • use earnings to send Bronya to medical school in Paris
    • Bronya would repay her with earnings as a doctor and bring her to France
  • moves to Paris, France in 1891 when she's almost 24
    • determined to do well in her "studies" after waiting nine years for her chance to go to college
    • rents a tiny room on the sixth floor
      • little heat or food, no elevator
  • met her husband, Pierre Curie, in 1894
    • he's a professor of science
    • invented a machine to measure the electric particles given off by minerals
  • they married in 1895
  • had two daughters
    • Irene: September 12,1897
    • Eve: December 6, 1904
  • when her husband died, Marie took his place as the professor of general physics
    • "woman in a man's field"
  • died of exposure to radiation at 67 years old
    • "She dedicated her life to radium, and radium too her life away."
                • Renaissance Women in Science


EDUCATION
  • finishes high school at age 15
    • top of her class
  • Polish college universities won't accept women
  • joins a "Flying University"
    • group of "patriotic Poles" would travel from location to location and teach one another
    • this was illegal
  • also taught peasant children reading and writing
    • also illegal
  • moves to Paris so she can go to college
  • gets her degree in physics in 1893
    • top of her class
  • gets her degree in mathematics in 1894
    • second in her class
  • in 1903, she becomes the first woman to receive a doctorate from the Sorbonne at the University of Paris
  • also in 1903, she, Pierre, and Antoine-Henri Becquerel win Nobel Prizes for physics

RESEARCH
  • in 1896, French physicist Antoine-Henri Becquerel found "strange, unexpected rays"
    • put uranium on a photographic plate wrapped in dark paper
    • astonished to find mysterious marks on the photographic plate
    • the rays of energy are coming from inside the element
  • Marie wants to get a doctorate degree in science
    • first woman in France to attempt getting a doctorate in any field
  • for a research project, she decides to study Becquerel's rays


THE PROJECT
  • believed that the "alpha rays" were coming from the atoms of the uranium
  • tests other elements, such as thorium (a chemical element) and finds that they too are "capable of radiation
    • called it "radioactivity"
  • minds a mineral called pitchblende that contains uranium but gives off more alpha rays than regular uranium
    • pitchblende: a uranium oxide also containing cerium, lead, thallium, and an unknown element
    • believes that there is an unknown element within the pitchblende
  • Marie and Pierre work in an old, unheated shed to try and isolate this new, unknown element
      • "I would be broken with fatigue at the day's end...and yet, it was in this miserable old shed that the best and happiest years of our life were spent, entirely consecrated to work."
                  • Marie Curie
  • in order to isolate the element, they need LOTS of pitchblende, for the element takes up ONE MILLIONTH percent
    • make a deal with the government to get one ton of it
    • they clean and process the entire ton in the shed
  • in 1898, they discover the element polonium
    • named after Marie's homeland: Poland
  • they realize that there's another element that's even more radioactive than polonium hidden in the pitchblende
    • before they even find the element, they name it "radium"
  • as they attempt to find a way to isolate radium, they discover that it takes TEN MILLION parts of pitchblende to get only one part of radium
  • in 1902, Marie is finally able to prepare a decigram of pure radium
    • finds the atomic weight of the new substance: 225
  • they refuse to patent radium, for they believe that their discoveries belong to everyone
ALPHA AND BETA RAYS
  • while Marie and Pierre were experimenting with radium, Anoine-Henri Bequerel found that there are several different types of rays emitting from the uranium particles
    • alpha rays: shooting out of uranium like "rays of energy"
      • these rays were what Marie Curie decided to study for her project
      • they are the "strange, enexpected" rays
    • beta rays: also spewing out of uranium
      • Ernest Rutherford calls them "beta rays"
      • doesn't know what they are, for "the cause and origin of the radiation continuously emitted by uranium and its salts still remain a mystery."
                  • Ernest Rutherford
  • Marie's elements (polonium and radium) emit much stronger alpha and beta rays
    • this opens up more opportunities for experimenting


THE PROJECT 2
  • a lump of radium that is decaying radioactively spews alpha and beta rays in ALL DIRECTIONS
  • to conduct a more controlled experiment, they place the lump in a lead box with a single hole in it
    • this creates a focused beam
  • they then expose the beam to a magnetic field
    • the results are startling
  • the beta "rays" bend in response to the magnetism
    • this proves that beta rays aren't rays, but are negatively charged particles
    • they're fast-moving, similar to those in cathode rays
      • they carry much more energy
  • the alpha "rays" emitted from the radium as Pierre Curie discovers, travel about 6.7 centimeters into the air then "disappear"
    • Marie Curie finds that they're actually attaching themselves to stray electrons in the air and turning into helium atoms
    • this means that alpha "rays" are actually particles
      • more than that, they're helium nuclei: 2 protons and 2 neutrons
POLONIUM
  • discovered in 1898
  • 400 times more radioactive than uranium
RADIUM
  • discovered in 1902
  • has a "luminous blue glow"
  • has 2 million times more radioactivity than uranium
  • used in "treating disease"

FUN FACTS
  • radiocatvity used to be measured in "curies," after Marie and Pierre Curie
    • 1 curie = radioactivity in one gram of radium
    • today radioactivity is measured in "becquerel