Marie Curie Named Most Influential Woman in History

Chemistry, Physics and twice Nobel Prize winner: this is Marie Curie. The Polish woman responsible for the discovery of radioactivity was recently elected by BBC History as the most influential woman in history. Curie was also a teacher, doctor, scientist and discovered the chemical elements radio and polonium.

The list was part of a tribute in commemoration of the centenary of women's suffrage in the United Kingdom. Experts and readers helped to list the selected women.

Marie Curie's Life

Born on November 7, 1867, Marie Sklodowska had a very poor childhood in the city of Warsaw, Poland. And believe me, the journey to the Nobel Prize was not an easy one. Moving to Paris to attend college, Curie suffered a lot of prejudice - for being a foreigner and a woman.

But it was in the City of Lights that she met her husband and scientific partner, Pierre Curie. Together, the couple managed to identify two elements that would become part of the periodic table: the radio and polonium (because of their origin).

Following Pierre's death, Marie went on to raise money to collaborate in US and European laboratories, developing cancer research. Despite all the recognition, the Polish still suffered many macho retaliations in science. According to the BBC, as a woman she never received financial support in her research.

When she was awarded the second Nobel Prize, she became the first person, regardless of gender, to win the honor twice. To date, Curie is the only scientist in history who has twice won the Nobel Prize in two different areas: physics and chemistry.

She died on July 4, 1934, a victim of aplastic anemia, a blood disorder caused by exposure to chemical radioactivity.

We cannot think of building a better world without improving individuals, and our particular duty is to help those for whom we can be useful (Marie Curie)

Other bright facts about Marie Curie:

  • She was the first woman to obtain the title of Doctor in Europe in 1903.
  • During World War I, Curie and her daughter, Irene, equipped ambulance cars with portable X-ray machines to treat soldiers.
  • Also immortalized by the radioactive unit Curie (Ci) and as the asteroid 7000 Curie.
  • Elected as the "mother of modern physics" and as the "mother of radioactivity."
  • Marie's life was portrayed in the cinema by Mervyn LeRoy's "Madame Curie" (pictured above). Adapted from the biography written by her daughter Eve Curie, the 1943 feature film was nominated for seven Oscars, including best film.

Other extraordinary women

In the podium with the Polish, in second place was the American activist Rosa Parks. Other legendary women on the list are Ada Lovelace (the first female computer programmer in history!), Florence Nightingale (responsible for creating the nursing we know today) and the famous aviator Amelia Earhart. To check out the complete list, just login here.

And while we're talking about the great Marie Curie, it's no wonder NZN was inspired by it to create a beautiful newsletter that weekly brings news, opinions and discussions related to the struggles waged by women on a daily basis. To learn more and receive the news, just click here.


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