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How RADIOACTIVE Portrays Madame Curie: A Historical Female Figure

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Madam Curie was famous for discovering radium and polonium. And she contributed largely to finding treatments for cancer. She was Born Nov 17 1867 in Warsaw Poland. And her mother was a boarding school operator, her father a mathematics and physics teacher. She had two daughters. And she died at age 66. With her cause of death being related to an anemic disorder likely rooted to her work with radiation. It is said that to this day, her body is still considered to be radioactive.

 

Education

She attending the Flying University – a secretly held university that admitted female students. Marie enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1891. And she earned her masters degree in Physics in 1893. Followed by a mathematics degree in 1894.

Movie

Radioactive stars Rosamund Pike and Sam Riley as Marie and Pierre Curie. The movie chronicles the radioactive discoveries of the Curies, and their passionate romance. Her story is told as a flashback. And it begins on November 7th, 1867, when Maria Salomea Skłodowska was born in modern-day Poland.

While watching Radioactive, you soon discover just how much Madam Marie Curie had to overcome. Poor and having to educate herself in secrecy, Marie found a partner that she could not intimidate in Pierre. And the two worked side by side in a lab. Where they discovered uranium after furthering the previous research of French Physicist Henri Becquerel. Because it was Marie’s theory that not only did uranium emitted rays as Henri theorized, but also that those rays remained constant. Atomic research that Marie coined as a discovery of the  “Radioactive”.

 

The Work

Like any female pioneer, Marie had to work twice as hard for little recognition. While Pierre was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in Physics, Marie was first denied a nomination. It was only due to the persistence and insistence from her husband and others, that Marie was finally recognized in 1903, winning a Nobel Peace prize.

After the tragic death of her husband, Marie became a professor at the Sorbonne, winning another Nobel Peace Prize in 1911 for Chemistry and for the discovery of Radium and Polonium. A discovery made by she and her late husband. So in her acceptance speech she shared the prize with her late husband. To this day, Marie Curie is the only female ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize twice. Several labs later, Marie founded the Radium Institute in 1914.

 

X Ray Innovation

Her work in building the first Xray machine paved the way to its many uses today. Historically, many French soldiers lives were saved with the help of Xray machines build within cars for transport. Because X ray machines were in hospitals and away from those injured, Marie hired women and trained them, including her seventeen year old daughter to use the portable X ray units. Taking them directly to the soldiers on the frontlines of battle.  And it is estimated that over one million soldiers were seen by these aptly called “petite curies” x-ray mobiles.

What struck me most about watching Radioactive was just how relatable of a woman she was.  Logical and assertive Marie overcame sexism, and misogyny, And even though her scientific discoveries were weaponized, it was her feminine spirit and heart that led her to use her discoveries for good.

Let’s Celebrate Women’s history month and get inspired.

You can watch Radioactive on Amazon Prime.

 

 


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