Marie Curie was born on November 7, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland, while the country was under Russian control. Both of her parents worked as teachers, but they lost their jobs following the birth of their fifth child, Marie. Marie was educated through high school as there was no further education available for women at that time. Consequently, she took a position as a governess. She then generously sent a portion of her salary to her older sister in Paris, France, to help her in her medical studies. Soon after, she joined her sister in the University of Paris to study physics and mathematics. She was a dedicated student, graduating at the top of her class.
She met Pierre Curie, a French chemist, in 1894 and they were married in 1895. Beginning in 1896, the Curies worked on radioactivity. Before long, she discovered that thorium, a metallic element, emits radiation. Another important discovery, she found that the element pitchblende produced an impossible amount of radiation given its contents, uranium and thorium.
They then searched extensively for the element that was producing this radiation. Their hunt finally ended in July of 1898, when the Curies discovered the element polonium (named after the country of Marie's birth). In December of that year, they discovered another element, radium. Ultimately, they put together, from eight metric tons of pitchblende, an entire gram (0.04 oz.) of pure radium chloride.
In 1906, a horse-drawn carriage killed Pierre Curie. Marie took up his teaching position at the University of Paris, being the first women to do so. During World War One, she equipped ambulances with X-rays and equipment. Moreover, she was appointed head of the Radiological Service of the International Red Cross.
Exposure to high radiation gave her leukemia in the late 1920s. She died on July 4,