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José Manuel Sánchez Ron

The way from Varsovia to Paris URL: http://www.march.es/conferencias/anteriores/voz.aspx?p1=22847&l=2

Marie Sklodowoska-Curie (1867-1934) is one of the icons of the 20th century. A distinguished scientist (no one before her had received two Nobel Prizes; in her case for Physics in 1903, and for Chemistry in 1911), she was responsible for having radioactivity -a physical phenomenon discovered in 1896 by Henri Becquerel but that did not receive much attention then- reach its maturity, starting with the discovery in 1898 of two new elements, radium and polonium, in collaboration with her husband Pierre Curie. Along these two conferences we will review her biography, paying a special attention not only in her scientific activity but also to her social activity. This way, the first conference will analyze her origins: her country of birth Poland, and the circumstances that surrounded her since her childhood until 1891, when she jumped into a train on her way to Paris. Although from that time on France became her home, she never quit being a Polish patriot; this is the reason why during the first conference we will also address the political history if Poland, which was under Russian domain when Marie was born, on top of addressing the situation of her science in the context of the scientific Europe of those times. 

The second conference will deal in first place about the scientific work of Marie Curie; about the circumstances that took her -first on her own, and later in collaboration with her husband Pierre Curie- to focus her work in radiation, and the contributions she did to this field. As a matter of fact, the scientific success arrived relatively early to the marriage Curie, and with it came fame, a fame that Marie had to handle on her own since 1906 when her husband died in an accident. Along the almost three decades that she survived Pierre, Marie Curie never quit scientific research, although she did widen her interests, worrying about the institutionalization of radioactivity, as well as its application in medicine and industry. Being a woman politically and socially compromised, Marie Curie participated in some of the most notable social events and movements of the first third of the 20th century, such as during the First World War, when she organized a radiological service, or the International Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations. It is not surprising then that she became an example to follow, particularly by women who understood that scientific research was not something away from their abilities. If Marie could do it, so could they. This way, her legacy -which was also followed by her daughters Iréne and Éve, as we will further explain in our conferences- is definitely one of the most extraordinary and moving pieces of history in all of the 20th century.

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