Marie and Pierre Curie, physicists

Marie and Pierre Curie, physicists

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Credit: SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Physicists Marie and Pierre Curie (1867-1934 and 1859-1906). Marie Curie (born Marya Sklodowska) began studying radioactivity in uranium shortly after its discovery by Becquerel in 1896. She studied the content of uranium ores by measuring their radioactive emissions and showed that thorium was radioactive. Working together they detected two new elements, polonium (named after Marie's native country, Poland) and radium, both highly radioactive. The Curies were awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize for physics for their work. Marie also won the 1911 chemistry prize, five years after Pierre's death in a street accident.

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