Traveling with the Atom

Allegheny College

(compiled by Dr.Glen E. Rodgers)



Marie at Work
Marie Sklodowska Curie
Polish-French chemist
(1867 - 1934)
Marie and Pierre in their laboratory

Contribution to the Development of the Atomic Concept
Marie Sklodowska Curie discovered the elements polonium (named after her native Poland) and radium that she and her husband Pierre isolated as the chloride salts from the tailings of a uranium mine in St. Joachimsthal (Czech Republic).  One ton of this uranium-depleted pitchblende ore yielded 0.1 gram of radium chloride.  For this work they shared (with Antoine Becquerel) the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.  After Pierre was killed in a tragic traffic accident in 1906, Marie was awarded a second Nobel Prize (this one in chemistry) for the electrolytic isolation of metallic radium.  Marie and Pierre Curie also were responsible for coining the term "radioactivity" from the Latin radius meaning ray.  Marie Curie was very active in the first world war devising mobile radiological units (called "little curies") used for diagnosing war wounds.  In 1921 and again in 1928, Marie Curie toured the United States; on both occasions the women of America raised sufficient funds to buy one gram of radium for Madame Curie.

Web Sources of Biographical Information
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity
Her Life as a Media Compendium
An account of the life Marie Sklodowska Curie presented as a series of simulated news articles that might have been written during her life time. (Woodrow Wilson site)
"Marie and Pierre Curie and the Discovery of Polonium and Radium", by Nanny Fröman
Nobel Prize site
Marie Curie visits the United States (National Bureau of Standards, National Institutes of Standards and Technology.  A rich site with many pictures including some of Marie Curie's visit to the Radium Refining Plant in Pittsburgh, PA, where Marie Curie toured the chemical extraction facilities used to prepare radium for the U.S. market.

Selected Biographical Books, Sections of Books, and Articles
Full biographical information on Sacks' book Uncle Tungsten pp 254-267; 281
Full biographical information on Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, 2nd Ed. pp 615-617
Grand Obsession: Madame Curie and Her World, Rosalynd Pflaum, Doubleday, NY (1989). Marie Curie : A Life (Radcliffe Biography Series), Susan Quinn
Madame Curie: A Biography
by Eve Curie, Vincent Sheean (Translator), Eve Curie Labouisse, Translated by Vincent Sheean (written by Marie Curie's daughter)
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity (Oxford Portraits in Science)
by Naomi E. Pasachoff

Some Scientific/Historical Traveling Sites
Marie Curie's office and laboratory.  Equipment built by Pierre and Marie as well as Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie Musee Curie at the Curie Institute, 11, rue Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris(1)
Pioneers of Radioactivity Walking Tour; the pamphlet describing the tour says "we'll follow in the footsteps of the French pioneers of radioactivity."  Starts at the Museum national d'histoire naturelle, . . . strolling in the shadow of the Pantheon, arriving at the College de France;  (cont'd at right) Parcours des sciences
6, rue, Louis-Thuillier - 75005 Paris
Tel 01 44 32 40 87

includes Institut du radium, the Becquerel laboratory, and the house were Pierre Curie was born

Site of laboratory shed where Pierre and Marie worked to isolate polonium and radium rue Vauquelin, 500 meters south of the present Institute, marked by a commemorative plaque(1)
Plaque marked the site of the apartment where Marie and Pierre were living at the time and where their daughter Irene was born in 1897 24 rue de la Glaciere (on the other side of the Seine, close to the observatory)(1)
Street where Pierre was killed by a horse-drawn carriage Rue Dauphine(1)
The graves of Pierre and Marie; they were moved here in 1997; Marie is the only woman buried here Paris Pantheon, in the Latin Quarter of Paris near the Institut Curie
Museum of Maria Sklodowska-Curie in Warsaw.  This link has many pictures that can be enlarged by clicking on them. (3) Located in a historic house (XVIII century), where Maria was born in 1867, 16 Freta St. in Warsaw; also the headquarters of the Polish Chemical Society.  Also has Pierre's quartz piezoelectrometer and electroscope; bust and statue representing M. Curie
A "petite Curie," mobile radiology installations, which transported X-ray apparatus to the wounded at the battle front.  Scroll down in this webpage to see one. One was displayed in 1998 was displayed during the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of radium.  Where is it now?

* see following Rodgers link to scientific/historical sites for further information.
(1) Taken from The Scientific Traveler, Charles Tanford and Jacqueline, John Wiley & Sons, NY (1992).
(2) Taken from A Trael Guide to Scientific Sites of the British Isles, Charles Tanford and Jacqueline Reynolds, John Wiley & Sons, NY (1995).
(3) Taken from Guide of Eurpoean Museums with collections on History of Chemistry, compiled by Jan W. van Spronsen, Federation of European Societies, Antwerp (1996)

Link to Dr. Rodgers' Scientific/Historical Site on the Curies.
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