Marie curie doctoral thesis


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Pierre Curie

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Madame Curie Story: How Radium Was Discovered in a Shed

DRV Version 4. Structured data Items portrayed in this file depicts. Namespaces File Discussion. This effort culminated in Marie's doctoral thesis, which she submitted in The doctorate was awarded amid general acclaim concerning the scientific value of this breakthrough.

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While awed by their discovery, the Curies did not realize the unfavorable medical consequences of the glowing radiation from the small samples they constantly handled. They were frequently tired, the skin of their fingers was scarred and cracked, and illnesses beset them. Interested in learning more about Marie Curie? Illness prevented them from accepting the prize until This date marked the beginning of the life of the Curies as celebrities; their preferred privacy was over.

Then, a year later, on April 19, , tragedy struck. Pierre Curie was run over by a horse-drawn cart while crossing the street and killed, leaving Marie with two daughters, Irene and the two-year-old Eve. With typical strength and commitment, Marie gathered herself together to succeed Pierre as head of the laboratory, becoming the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne.

Building on her own experience, Marie developed a unique educational situation for Irene. The children of the Sorbonne faculty were taught by their parents in a variety of subjects in completely non-traditional fashion.

Marie Curie the scientist

An emphasis on science and mathematics was included. A full professorship, again the first to a woman, was awarded to Marie Curie in She went on to be the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of radium and polonium and subsequent research on their properties.

During the next two years, Marie's life became chaotic involving scandal, media persecution, and collapse from ill health. The scandal involved a relationship with a married student, Paul Longevin, which led to highly critical scrutiny from the French press. Following this stressful time, Marie spent being treated for physical ailments and depression, then recuperating in England and France. Newly energized, she worked with her daughter, Irene, to ease the pain of wounded soldiers by creating and organizing mobile X-ray stations and implementing medical applications of radium in destroying infection.

When peace returned, Marie Curie devoted her efforts to extending the work of the Radium Institute by seeking funding sources in Europe and, more successfully, in the United States. Even though her health was failing, she traveled extensively and was welcomed everywhere as a celebrity advancing the knowledge and popularity of science. They in turn received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for advances in nuclear research. Marie Curie died at the age of 67 on July 4, of leukemia, which may have been caused by her lifetime exposure to ionizing radiation.

Her papers from the s are still contaminated with radiation, and researchers must wear protective clothing before removing them from the lead-lined boxes which contain them. Marie's early research in Paris centered on correlating the chemical compositions of various steels with their magnetic properties. An important consequence of this work was her meeting with Pierre Curie, himself a long-time researcher on magnetism.

After publishing the results of her research, Marie turned to considering topics for her doctoral research. Following the recent work of Henri Becquerel, who reported on the spontaneous radiation emitted by uranium compounds, Marie Curie decided to focus her research on further investigation of this new phenomenon. To measure the weak electric currents caused by the radiation and obtain comparable data, Curie used the electrometer invented by her husband, Pierre, and his brother, Jacques, rather than rely photographic plate intensities.

The emissions were found to be constant and independent of physical state or purity; radiation strength depended only on the amount of uranium in the sample. This led to Marie Curie's first hypothesis that the radiation originated in the elemental uranium in the sample. This fundamental observation set the stage for subsequent discoveries on atomic structure and the intrinsic power of the atom. Whereas up to that time the atom was considered to be the smallest, indivisible particle existing in matter, the radiation observed would indicate that the "indivisible" atom was now subject to decomposition to smaller components.

Curie now expanded her search for other "Becquerel-ray emitting" compounds using pitchblende from Joachimsthal, Austria, and found the element thorium to have the same emission characteristics as uranium. She coined the term "radioactivity" to describe this property.

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  • Her next hypothesis—that certain complex materials, such as pitchblende, achieved their high radioactivity from the presence of additional as yet unknown elements—then required to be tested by isolating such elements. Pierre Curie joined Marie in the next stage of the task where various chemical extraction techniques were used to separate the components of pitchblende.

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    • Marie and Pierre Curie and the discovery of polonium and radium.
    • His electrometer was again used to measure radioactivity in the resulting fractions. From this work, in , the Curies reported the existence of two new, separate elements that they named polonium and radium. The next step, isolating pure compounds of the new elements, proved next to impossible.


      While radium chloride was obtained by repeated re-crystallization, it was not possible, despite a beginning sample of 50 kilograms, to isolate a pure polonium compound. All attention was now centered on radium. A large-scale extraction in yielded sufficient amounts and led to isolation of radium metal and detailed examination of the element's properties. The atomic weight was found to be Its radioactive power is at least a million times greater than that of uranium, penetrating thick photographic plates.

      Radium is spontaneously and continuously luminous and heat producing.

      Madame Curie's Passion | History | Smithsonian

      Radium was used in medicine to destroy cancerous tumors by implantation of a radium source directly in the tumor. It increasingly came to be regarded as an elixir and restorative, but consequential, toxic side effects became known. The health hazard, termed "radiation sickness," caused such treatments to be discontinued in the s and safer substitutes such as cobalt came into use.

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