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Marie Curie was one of the most accomplished scientists in history. Together with her
husband, Pierre, she discovered radium, an element widely used for treating cancer, and
studied uranium and other radioactive substances. Pierre and Marie's amicable collaboration
later helped to unlock the secrets of the atom.
Marie was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland, where her father was a professor of physics.
At an early age, she displayed a brilliant mind and a blithe personality. Many of her friends would even describe her as easy-going. Her great exuberance1 for learning prompted her to continue with her studies after high school. She became disgruntled, however, when she learned that the university in Warsaw was closed to women. Determined to receive a higher education, she defiantly left Poland and in 1891 entered the Sorbonne, a French university, where she earned her master's degree and doctorate in physics. Marie was fortunate to have studied at the Sorbonne with some of the greatest scientists of her day, one of whom was Pierre Curie. Marie and Pierre were married in 1895 and spent many productive years working together in the physics laboratory. A short time after they discovered radium, Pierre was killed by a horse-drawn wagon in 1906. Marie was stunned by this horrible misfortune and endured heartbreaking anguish. Despondently she recalled their close relationship and the joy that they had shared in scientific research. The fact that she had two young daughters to raise by herself greatly increased her distress.
Curie's feeling of desolation finally began to fade when she was asked to succeed her
husband as a physics professor at the Sorbonne. She was the first woman to be given a professorship at the world-famous university. In 1911 she received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for isolating radium. Although Marie Curie eventually suffered a fatal illness from
her long exposure to radium, she never became disillusioned about her work. Regardless
of the consequences, she had dedicated herself to science and to revealing the mysteries of
the physical world.
1. Pierre and Marie Curie helped unlock the secrets to the universe.
2. The Curies had a poor working relationship.
3. Marie Curie's father worked as a science professor.
4. The university in Warsaw only admitted men.
5. Marie challenged the norms of society by leaving Poland to go to a university in France-
6. Marie met her future husband, Pierre, in Warsaw.
7. A long time after the couple discovered radium, Pierre died in an accident.
8. When Pierre died, Marie had to raise their three children alone.
9. Marie was asked to find a new professor to replace her husband at Sorbonne.
10. She had dedicated herself to science and to revealing the mysteries of the physical world.
10. The author believes Mayor Bassolino's petition could be seen as silly.
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