Marie Curie

Essay by Scott RobinsonHigh School, 10th gradeA+, January 1995

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Marie Curie(1867-1934) was a French physicist with many accomplishments in both physics and chemistry. Marie and her husband Pierre, who was also a French physicist, are both famous for their work in radioactivity.

Marie Curie, originally named Marja Sklodowska, was born in Warsaw, Poland on Nov.7, 1867. Her first learning of physics came from her father who taught it in high school. Marie's father must have taught his daughter well because in 1891, she went to Paris(where she changed her original name) and enrolled in the Sorbonne. Then two years later she passed the Examination for her physics degree ranking in first place. She met Pierre Curie in 1894, and married him in the next year. Marie subsequently gave birth to two daughters Irene(1897) and Eve(1904).

Pierre Curie(1859-1906) obtained his doctorate in the year of his marriage, but had already distinguished himself in the study of the properties of crystals.

He discovered the phenomenon of piezoelectricity, whereby changes in the volume of certain crystals excite small electric potentials. He discovered that the magnetic susceptibility of paramagnetic materials is inversely proportional to the absolute temperature, and that there exists a critical temperature above which the magnetic properties disappear, this is called the Curie temperature.

Marie Curie was interested in the recent discoveries of radiation, which were made by Wilhelm Roentgen on the discovery of X-rays in 1895, and by Henri Becquerel in 1896, when he discovered uranium gives off similar invisible radiation as the X-rays. Curie thus began studying uranium radiation and made it her doctoral thesis. With the aid of an electrometer built by Pierre, Marie measured the strength of the radiation emitted form uranium compounds and found it proportional to the uranium content, constant over a long period of time and influenced by...