Inventions: Inventors’ Resources

Inventions of Marie Curie

Inventor: Marie Curie (Madam Curie)

Invention: Radium 

Radium is one of the major inventions of Marie Curie which revolutionized the world. The life of Marie Curie is a sheer example of hard work and determination.

Maria Sklodowska was born as the fifth child of a patriotic Polish family. Being brilliant in her studies, Maria finished her graduation with flying colours. She continued her studies in Paris.

From Sorbonne University she took her master’s in physics in the year 1893 and mathematics a year later. Maria wanted to go back to Poland once she finished her studies. But destiny had other plans for her; otherwise, perhaps the world would have lost at least some of the valuable inventions of Marie Curie. In Paris, Marie met one of the famous French physicists, Pierre Curie and they got married in 1895. The inventions of Marie Curie were mostly a result of their collaborative efforts.

During that time, hot debate was going on about the property of radioactivity. Scientist Henry Becquerel came up with some astonishing findings on radioactivity. Maria selected the same subject for her thesis.

After doing some initial research on the subject, Marie concluded that there are elements other than Uranium which exhibited the phenomenon of radioactivity. Her finding that radiation is an atomic property itself was revolutionary. Soon she found that the element Thorium exhibits radioactivity. Pierre constantly guided her in all these endeavors.

The couple experimented with pitch blende, an ore of Uranium which was cheaply available. They detected the presence of a radioactive element which is very similar to barium in its properties, but much more powerful than Uranium in radioactivity. They worked with great zest and found out two elements- Polonium and Radium, the latter being the powerful radioactive element. While Marie extracted and purified the radioactive elements, Pierre measured them. The amazing inventions of Marie Curie were duly recognized when both husband and wife were conferred the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and Marie Curie became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize

Marie later realized that what she isolated was not pure Radium. Her next attempt was to extract pure Radium. She succeeded in isolating pure Radium and determining its atomic weight. She discovered that one mole of radium has a mass of 226 grams. For these findings, she was awarded the Nobel Prize again in 1911, this time in chemistry. But Pierre Curie did not live to see the happy moment; he died in an accident in 1906. After his death, Madam Curie was appointed as the Director of physics laboratory in Sorbonne.

Altogether the inventions of Marie Curie proved to be of great value to mankind. It was she who coined the word “radioactivity”. She found that radiation can kill normal human cells. Based on the fact, she stated that it can be manipulated to treat cancer where it destroys the tumour cells. Marie gave the idea of X-ray machines and designed them.

During the time of First World War, the inventions of Marie Curie proved to be a real blessing to treat the wounded soldiers. She designed mobile X-ray machines and even went to the war front to help the soldiers.

Even though the inventions of Marie Curie could have fetched her a fortune, she never tried to patent the inventions. Like Albert Einstein said, “Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.” Madam Curie died of aplastic anemia in 1934, possibly due to the prolonged exposure to radiations as a result of her research work.

Her mortal remains were later transported to the famous dome of Pantheon in Paris.