Marie Curie’s Personal Belongings will Stay Radioactive For 1500 Years

by Aadarsh Jain

Marie Curie’s Personal Belongings will Stay Radioactive For 1500 Years

April 26, 2021

Marie Curie was a Polish-French physicist and chemist who became the first-ever lady to win a Nobel Prize. She is the only person to have received the Nobel Prize in two fields. Curie, also known as the "Mother of Modern Physics," died of aplastic anaemia, a disease caused by elevated radiation levels from her discoveries of Polonium and Radium.

A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.

- Marie curie
chemist marie curie in her laboratory 515581820 a87894f1eea44e5f9b61dcef1749fcc1 1

Discoveries Of Radioactive Elements

In 1898, she and her French physicist husband, ‘Pierre Curie,’ discovered two radioactive elements. They called it ‘Polonium,’ after Marie’s home country of Poland and the element Radium. Marie worked to chemically separate Radium from pitchblende while Pierre studied the physical properties of the new elements. Radium, unlike uranium and polonium, does not occur naturally. In June 1903, she received her doctorate of science for her work, and later that year, she and her husband shared the Nobel Prize in Physics. Marie Curie died on July 4, 1934, at the Sancellemoz Sanatorium in Passy, France, at the age of 66. Her death was attributed to aplastic pernicious anaemia, a disease she acquired as a result of years of exposure to radiation at work. 

Consequences Of Radiations

Curie’s personal belongings, such as her clothing, furniture, cookbooks, and laboratory notes, are still radioactive after more than a century. Curie’s research documents and scratchpad are kept in lead-lined boxes at France’s Bibliotheque National in Paris and are viewed as public and science gems. Guests may even see Curie’s original copies at the library, however, they need to sign an obligation waiver and wear defensive gear in light of the fact that the items are defiled with radium 226, which includes a half-existence of around 1,600 years. 

marie curie pierre curie

Her body was as yet radioactive, so it was encased in a coffin fixed with about an inch of lead. The Curie’s are buried in the Panthéon in Paris, a mausoleum that houses the remains of notable French people such as philosophers Rousseau and Voltaire.


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