Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Michael . Michael Wonders, “what did marie curie invent” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Michael !

Do you have a dream for the future? Does it seem impossible right now? Perhaps you WONDER whether you’ll ever reach your goal.

If so, don’t lose heart. You actually have a lot in common with one of the most famous scientists of all time. Who are we talking about? Marie Curie, of course!

In 1867, Maria Sklodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland. She was a bright and curious child who did well in school. At the time, the University of Warsaw refused students who were women. But that didn’t stop young Maria! Instead, she learned in secret. She went to informal classes held in ever-changing locations, called the “Floating University.”

In 1891, the woman the world would come to know as Marie Curie made her way to Paris. There, she enrolled at the Sorbonne, a university that didn’t discriminate. Over the next few years, she completed advanced degrees in physics and mathematics. She also met French physicist Pierre Curie. The two married in 1895.

Marie and Pierre worked closely over the next decade. Marie’s biggest discoveries came from studying uranium rays. She believed these rays came from the element’s atomic structure. Curie created the term “radioactivity” to name the phenomena she had observed. Her findings led to the field of atomic physics.

Together, the Curies studied the mineral pitchblende. Through their experiments, they discovered a new radioactive element. Marie named it polonium in honor of her native Poland. The two later also discovered the element radium.

In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. Marie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. That same year, she also became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from a French university. After Pierre’s death in 1906, Marie took over his teaching job at the Sorbonne. She was the first female professor at the institution.

In 1911, Curie became the first person—of any gender—to win a second Nobel Prize. This time, she was recognized for her work in the field of chemistry. Curie’s scientific reputation was known around the world. In fact, she was invited to attend the Solvay Congress in Physics. There, she joined other famous scientists of the day, including Albert Einstein.

After World War I began in 1914, Marie used her scientific knowledge to support France’s efforts in the war. She helped to develop the use of portable X-ray machines in the field. In fact, the medical vehicles that carried these machines became known as “Little Curies.”

Marie Curie never knew the toll her work would take on her health. She died in France in 1934 from advanced leukemia related to prolonged exposure to radiation. Today, Curie’s notebooks are still too radioactive to be safely handled. They are stored in lead-lined boxes in France.

Marie Curie left a great legacy of accomplishment and scientific curiosity. Her daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, followed in her footsteps. Joliot-Curie received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935, one year after her mother’s death.

In 1995, Marie and Pierre Curie’s remains were placed in the Panthéon in Paris. This is known as the final resting place of France’s most distinguished citizens. Marie Curie was the first woman to be interred there on her own merit.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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