Postcard from Poland
Born on 7 November 1867 we remember Marie Skłodowska Curie as the brilliant female scientist who in 1898 discovered a radioactive metal occurring in nature from the radioactive decay of uranium. She named it Polonium after her homeland of Poland. On the Periodic Table of Elements, Polonium appears as atomic symbol Po with atomic number 84.
In 1903 she and her husband Pierre Curie were awarded the Nobel prize "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel." She was the first woman ever to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
After the death of her husband, Marie continued her research and in 1911 she was awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry for successfully producing radium as a pure metal. Equally outstanding in their achievements and worthy of recognition is that Marie Skłodowski and her husband Pierre Curie never applied for patents to protect their discoveries. They were believers of what is known today as the Creative Commons principle. Think Wikipedia, the multilingual, free encyclopedia, where anyone can add to the information and is designed as a collaborative work.
According to Marie Skłodowska-Curie:
"None of us ever intended to make any profit out of our discovery. Thus we didn't apply for patents and we always publicly announced the results of our studies as well as methods of extraction of the pure radium from the ore. Moreover, we always shared all our knowledge with other scientists."
The Curies never patented the process for purifying radium to keep for themselves. They had no intention to exclude others from making, using or selling their discovery. They published their work openly and freely for others to build on in order that they might come to new conclusions, new discoveries and increase the amount of scientific creativity. Other scientists and chemical companies began processing radium and selling it for cancer treatments but at such astronomical prices that for a while Marie Curie was unable to afford the very element she had discovered to carry on with her own research. It did not stop her from continuing to share her findings.
Marie Skłodowska Curie died in Paris on July 4, 1934. She is recognized as one of the twentieth century's most brilliant minds and was, at the same time, incredibly giving and generous for the benefit of mankind.
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.