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This is Marie Curie. Marie Curie was a scientist who discovered two elements, researched and named radioactivity, worked with pitchblende, won two Nobel Prizes, vastly improved the x-ray, among so many other accomplishments. She was born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867.
She was interested in a mineral called pitchblende, as it held only a trace of uranium, yet showed enormous signs of radioactivity. This was strange, as uranium was thought to be the only radioactive element at the time. She ground up the pitchblende in a mortar and pestle and dissolved it in acid.
Eventualy, she was able to isolate a black powder that was 330 times more radioactive than uranium. She called this new element Polonium, after her homeland, Poland. It is extremely dangerous and can cause cancer if you handle it without the proper protection. Of course, there was no proper protection back then.
After extracting the polonium, Curie found that the leftover liquid was still quite radioactive, but she was not able to isolate the radioactive element. She bought the waste liquid from a uranium factory to study. It took a long time and a lot of work, but in 1902 she managed to isolate radium. It was highly radioactive and lead to many health issues.
In 1903, Marie Curie, Perre Curie, and Henri Becquerel were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on radioactivity. She later won a Chemistry Nobel Prize for creating a means of measuring radioactivity. Marie Curie later became a Professor at Sorbonne, Director of the Red Cross Radiological Service, and Director of Physics Laboratory at Sorbonne.
Curie would often carry vials of radioactive substances in her pockets and worked without any real protection from the rays emitted by the materials that she was studying. Back then, not very many people thought that radioactivity could have negative effects on the body. The radioactivity of her work eventually took its toll and Marie Curie died of leukemia at 67 years old.
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