Happy Birthday, Marie Curie!

It is great to see Google honoring Marie Curie’s birthday today on its homepage. They depict her in an impressionistic illustration working at her chemistry bench, so check it out. I just wanted to take a second to remember an amazing woman. Not to mention, last month was the 100th anniversary of her second Nobel prize.

She was the first person to win or share two Nobel prizes. Not to mention, Curie is still one of two people (the other is Linus Pauling) to win a Nobel prize in two different fields, physics and chemistry. The first of her Nobels was in physics and shared with her husband. It was given “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel.” Her second Nobel was given in chemistry “in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element.”

Her legacy continues as she still is an example for women in science. There are institutions and universities named after the Curies. One of her daughters, Irène Joliot-Curie, followed in her esteemed footsteps and won a Nobel in chemistry as well. So Happy Birthday Marie Curie, an example to us all!


Jacqueline, a true Floridian, wandered up to the tundra of Athens, Georgia to receive her PhD in computational quantum chemistry. Returning to her roots, she is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tampa in the field of computational biochemistry investigating the wonders of penicillin-like drugs. When she is not slaving over the computer, her varied interests include international travel, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fancy food, (American) football, and Belgian quadrupels. She is also the founder of, a football blog with an exclusive female writing staff. Check out her sports ramblings there or follow her on Twitter @jhargis9.

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  1. I admire her as she’s one of the few people in history to be a pioneer and take risks for the cause of scientific advancement. Marie Curie died a HORRIBLE death from radiation induced sicknesses, but she died for something she believed in.

    Sometimes scientific/technological advancement is pretty dangerous and there are always those dedicated few who think the knowledge or advancement is so important to humanity that they are willing to risk their lives to gain it.

    So hats off to her being both a pioneer of women’s strength and of scientific advancement.

  2. “One of her daughters, Irène Joliot-Curie, followed in her esteemed footsteps and one a Nobel in chemistry as well.”

    Shouldn’t that second “one” be won? /language police

  3. Yes, sorry “won” is correct. I wrote this quickly this morning in the midst of editing another paper.

    There are only four total women who won in chemistry including Marie and her daughter.

    1. Granted, there were few female physicists in the past; probably Chemists as well, but not any more. The last Nobel prize in physics given to a woman was in 1963.

  4. Since we already had a word police moment I will add an art police moment. Google’s Curie logo is more pontilism which was an offshoot of impressionism.

    It is indeed sad that so few women have won Nobel prizes in science. That is why we have to encorage our daughters to be strong in all subjects even if they don’t pursue them. My daughter pointed out that math is not easy the other day and my answer was “that’s why you have to practice.”

    She loves science and wants to be a vet so I told her to make sure she practices all of her subjects because she would be surprised which ones will come in handy.

    1. As someone who have done fairly high-level math in my physics studies, I can safely say that math isn’t easy. But it isn’t really trying to be either. The only way to be good at it is to study hard, There is no gender-difference there. Just social pressure.

      She’s lucky to have parents who encourage her!

  5. Many thanks to the art police. I am by no means an expert in that.

    That is such a great reply to your daughter. As a scientist, it is amazing what skills come in handy. I never thought writing would be such an integral part of my career. Not to mention math, reading, computer science, chemistry, biology, and the list goes on and on and on and on…

  6. A possibly apocryphal story: having won the Physics Nobel, Marie and Pierre wondered what to do with the big gold medals – so they gave them to their infant daughter as playthings.

    Hence, said daughter, Irène, literally cut her teeth on a Nobel prize – and grew up to win her own.

    After some quick fact checking, I find that Irene was about 5 when the Curies won the Physics Nobel Prize, so she was beyond tooth cutting. (A second daughter, Ève, was born about a year after the prize, but she became a writer and pianist rather than scientist.) I haven’t found a reliable source for the story that the prize medals were used as playthings.

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