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Pierre Curie's relationship with Marie Curie ended when Pierre Curie died on April 19, 1906. They had been married for 10.7 years.

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Pierre Curie

Other - Scientist

Why Famous: Radioactivity

Age: 46 (5/15/1859 - 4/19/1906)

 

Pierre Curie's Relationships (1)

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Marie Curie

Other - Scientist

Why Famous: Radioactivity

Age: 66 (11/7/1867 - 7/4/1934)

 

Marie Curie's Relationships (2)

Relationship Timeline

Event Start Date Length
Dating n/a --
Engaged n/a --
Married 7/26/1895 10.7 years
Deceased 4/19/1906 --
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Where and/or how did Pierre Curie and Marie Curie meet?

Sklodowska studied during the day and tutored evenings, barely earning her keep. In 1893 she was awarded a degree in physics and began work in an industrial laboratory at Lippman's. Meanwhile she continued studying at the Sorbonne, and in 1894, earned a degree in mathematics. That same year, Pierre Curie entered her life. He was an instructor at the School of Physics and Chemistry, the Ecole Superieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI). Sklodowska had begun her scientific career in Paris with an investigation of the magnetic properties of various steels; it was their mutual interest in magnetism that drew Sklodowska and Curie together.

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Her departure for the summer to Warsaw only enhanced their mutual feelings for each other. She still was laboring under the illusion that she would be able to return to Poland and work in her chosen field of study. When she was denied a place at Krakow University merely because she was a woman, however, she returned to Paris. Almost a year later, in July 1895, she and Pierre Curie married, and thereafter the two physicists hardly ever left their laboratory. They shared two hobbies, long bicycle trips and journeys abroad, which brought them even closer. Maria had found a new love, a partner, and scientific collaborator upon whom she could depend.

At that time, however, no one else in the world of physics had noticed what Sklodowska Curie recorded in a sentence of her paper, describing how much greater were the activities of pitchblende and chalcolite compared to uranium itself: "The fact is very remarkable, and leads to the belief that these minerals may contain an element which is much more active than uranium." She later would recall how she felt "a passionate desire to verify this hypothesis as rapidly as possible." Pierre Curie was sure that what she had discovered was not a spurious effect. He was so intrigued that he decided to drop his work on crystals temporarily and to join her. On 14 April 1898 they optimistically weighed out a 100 gram sample of pitchblende and ground it with a pestle and mortar. They did not realize at the time that what they were searching for was present in such minute quantities that they eventually would have to process tonnes of the ore.

As they were unaware of the deleterious effects of radiation exposure attendant on their chronic unprotected work with radioactive substances, Sklodowska Curie and her husband had no idea what price they would pay for the effect of their research upon their health. In July 1898, Sklodowska Curie and her husband published a paper together, announcing the existence of an element which they named "polonium", in honor of her native Poland, which would for another twenty years remain partitioned among three empires. On 26 December 1898 the Curies announced the existence of a second element, which they named "radium" for its intense radioactivity, a word that they coined. Pitchblende is a complex mineral. The chemical separation of its constituents was an arduous task. The discovery of polonium had been relatively easy; chemically it resembles the element bismuth, and polonium was the only bismuth-like substance in the ore. Radium, however, was more elusive. It is closely related, chemically, to barium, and pitchblende contains both elements. By 1898 the Curies had obtained traces of radium, but appreciable quantities, uncontaminated with barium, still were beyond reach.

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