Marie Curie, née Maria Skłodowska, (born November 7, 1867, Warsaw, Congress Poland, Russian Empire – died July 4, 1934, Passy, Haute-Savoie, Third French Republic) was a Polish-born physicist and chemist, remembered for pioneering research on radioactivity and contribution to the fight against cancer.
Her greatest achievements are the theory of radioactivity and the discovery of polonium and radium. She founded the Curie Institutes, in Paris and Warsaw, and was the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris. During the First World War, Marie Curie developed small, mobile X-ray units to help diagnose injuries.
In 1903, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, along with Henri Becquerel, for their work on the radiation phenomena. In 1911, she received a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, for the discovery of the elements radium and polonium.
Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person and only woman to win this prestigious award twice. She is also the only one to win a Nobel Prize in two separate sciences.
Marie Curie also had a great impact on redefining women’s position in society and science.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.Michigan Education Journal, Volume 22 (1944)
Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.As quoted in Living Adventures in Science by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas (1972)
One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.Letter to her brother (March 18, 1894)
In science, we must be interested in things, not in persons.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.Letter to her brother (March 18, 1894)
The older one gets the more one feels that the present moment must be enjoyed: it is a precious gift, comparable to a state of grace.Letter to Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie (December 29, 1928)
Radium was not to enrich any one. Radium is an element. It belongs to all people.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
After all, science is essentially international, and it is only through lack of the historical sense that national qualities have been attributed to it.'Memorandum by Madame Curie, Member of the Committee, on the Question of International Scholarships for the advancement of the Sciences and the Development of Laboratories', League of Nations, International Committee on Intellectual Co-operation: Sub-committee of Experts for the Instruction of Children and Youth in the Existence and Aims of the League of Nations. (Recommendations. Preamble): Issue 5, Issues 9-13 (1926), 12.
You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
“The moment of discovery” does not always exist: the scientist’s work is too tenuous, too divided, for the certainty of success to crackle out suddenly in the midst of his laborious toil like a stroke of lightening, dazzling him by its fire.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
Humanity, surely, needs practical men who make the best of their work for the sake of their own interests, without forgetting the general interest. But it also needs dreamers, for whom the unselfish following of a purpose is so imperative that it becomes impossible for them to devote much attention to their own material benefit.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
I am among those who think that science has great beauty.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
First principle: never to let one’s self be beaten down by persons or by events.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity.The Discovery of Radium by Madame Marie Curie at Vassar College (May 14, 1921)
A great discovery does not issue from a scientist’s brain ready-made, like Minerva springing fully armed from Jupiter’s head; it is the fruit of an accumulation of preliminary work.Frederic Joliot-Curie: The Man and His Theories by Pierre Biquard (1966)
We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its beauty. Neither do I believe that the spirit of adventure runs any risk of disappearing in our world.Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie; translated by Vincent Sheean (1937)
It is necessary to make a dream of life, and to make of a dream a reality.Pierre Curie: With Autobiographical Notes by Marie Curie (1924)
When one studies strongly radioactive substances special precautions must be taken. Dust, the air of the room, and one’s clothes, all become radioactive.No source
We have no money, no laboratory and no help in the conduct of this important and difficult task. It was like creating something out of nothing.No source
I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.Pierre Curie, Nobel Conference 1903