Facts on Pierre and Marie Curie



  • Pierre and Marie Curie were the husband and wife scientists who discovered the nature of radioactivity. In 1903 they won a Nobel Prize for their work.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934) was born Marya Sklodowska in Poland. She went to Paris in 1891 to study physics.
  • Pierre Curie (1859-1906) was a French lecturer in physics who discovered the piezoelectric effect in crystals. His discovery led to the development of devices from quartz watches to microphones.
  • The Curies met in 1894 while Marie was a student at the Sorbonne. They married in 1895.
  • In 1896 Antoine Becquerel found that uranium salts emitted a mysterious radiation that affected photographic paper in the same way as light.
  • In 1898 the Curies found the intensity of radiation was in exact proportion to the amount of uranium — so it must be coming from the uranium atoms.
  • The Curies’ combination of brilliant insight with exact, patient work led to their historic breakthrough in The Curies called atomic radiation `radioactivity.
  • In July 1898 the Curies discovered a new radioactive element. Marie called it polonium after her native Poland.
  • In December the Curies found radium — an element even more radioactive than uranium.
  • In 1906 Pierre was killed by a tram. Marie died later from the effects of her exposure to radioactive materials, the dangers of which were unknown at that time.