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Marie Curie

She was born in Poland as a daughter of two teachers, and although she is known as Marie Curie, her real name is Maria Sklodowska. During her lifetime, as a result of the war, there was no longer a country called Poland, and speaking Polish was forbidden. However, her family continued speaking the language and engaging in activities to preserve Polish culture, and they took care of their heritage. At that time, Poland was under Russian rule, and women were prohibited from attending universities. There were a few places in Europe where women could study, and she chose to go to Paris. Paris was the capital of science and technology, therefore, a lot of people wanted to go there. She also wanted to study there. However, her financial condition wasn't convenient at the time. Finally, at the age of 24, she got a chance to go and study at “The University of the Sorbonne”.

She graduated from physics there, and Professor Lippmann helped her with her research about magnetism, she started studying in Pierre Curie’s lab with the help of a friend. She had found the love of her life but there was an issue. Marie's father was expecting her to come and take care of him because he was getting older, and Marie's mother had also died, so at the time, there was no one to take care of him. On the other hand, Pierre was offering her the life of her dreams, living as a scientist. But if she agreed to be a scientist, it would mean that she would have to abandon her family and hometown.

Eventually, she continued her life living her dreams. Pierre and Marie were married and had children, and she also got a doctorate in physics. She started experimenting with uranium, which could leak electricity across its gaps. Noticing this characteristic of uranium, she began to investigate whether it was a unique property, exclusive to this element.

She had been putting in tremendous effort, but it wasn't until February of 1898 that she saw any results. That day, she found that thorium was leaking electricity too. Therefore, it wasn't a unique behavior of uranium, it was a property of matter. She used the term "radioactivity" to define this characteristic of matter. After discovering this behavior, she continued with her studies. One day, when she was experimenting with "Pitchblende", she found out that the radioactivity of Pitchblende was 4 times greater than uranium. She thought she was making a mistake, therefore she did the same experiment 10 times, so that she could determine if there was an error, but the result always came out the same. She announced the discovery to Professor Lippmann, her mentor, but her discovery was ignored, because she was a woman and women weren't socially accepted in many industries, including science. In her continuing research, she found out that 2 different elements were both radioactive in the Pitchblade and she was able to announce the 1st element. She named the first element "Polonium" to show her love for her country.

Then, she shifted her focus to the second element, which is nearly a thousand times more active than uranium. They needed to ensure that it was an unknown element, and they required spectroscopic proof. When they obtained this proof, they discovered spectral lines that had never been seen before. Thus, the discovery was confirmed. However, this was not sufficient, she needed to locate pure material to substantiate her discovery to the scientific community. In 1902, after 4 years, she isolated one-tenth of a gram of radium chloride from 10 tons of Pitchblende residue, and named it "Radium". She measured the weight of a radium atom and the value was significantly close compared to the value we find today. The technique used on these radioactive elements was still used after finding another radioactive element. In 1903 Mr. Becquerel and Mr. Curie were nominated for the Noble Prize. But Marie Curie was not a candidate. One of the nominators was Professor Lippmann, and he knew whose idea this discovery was. Pierre Curie said, "I am not the original owner of this idea, I just assisted with the work. The true individual who brought this idea to fruition is Marie Curie." He urged them to recognize Marie's contribution and include her in the award. She finally won the prize, and on top, she won a prize all on her own. She was an amazing woman and an inspiring scientist with her discoveries. However, these discoveries led to her death because she died from exposure to an overdose of radiation.

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