The Curie Museum in Paris, Episode 79

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Marie Curie and atom RA

A few years back I wanted to visit the Curie Museum in Paris and it was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2012, but I didn't have a chance to see it until 2015, but this one was worth the proverbial wait. It' s a small museum: even if you carefully look at every display, it will only take an hour or two.

There won't be throngs of people clotting around the Mona Lisa, you'll be able to look at everything without being rushed. And, in keeping with the Curie spirit,  admission is free, but you must go Wed-Sat from 1 PM until 5 PM.  Squeeze it in, it's worth it!

Episode Highlights

  • Marie's youth
  • How she met Pierre
  • Two elements and one baby in the same year
  • The medical uses of radium
  • An odd courtship
  • The radioactivity puzzle
  • 1903, a hard year for the Curie family
  • Radioactivity gets into everything!
  • Pierre voluntarily exposes himself to radium
  • "Nul n'est prophète en son pays" (you can't be a prophet in your own village)
  • In science we must be interested in things, not in persons
  • Pierre dies on rue Dauphine
  • Marie gets offered his chair at the Sorbonne
  • End of life

 

Curie Museum in ParisIn this episode I give you the background information you'll want to know before you go so you can appreciate what she was all about. Nobody can do justice to a great family in the span of a short podcast, but I shall try.

 

Curie Museum in ParisDiscrimination Against Women as Seen in Marie Curie's Life

  • She could not enroll in the university in Poland, she had to expatriate herself in order to study
  • Everyone assumed she was her husband's assistant
  • Her husband Pierre is the one that made sure she got recognition
  • She didn't have a chance to teach at the Sorbonne until her husband died
  • The nomination for her first Nobel Prize did not initially include Marie's name!
  • In a science team that included both men and women, everyone used to assume the men did all the work
  • Marie Curie could not present her findings at the French Academy of Sciences because, being a woman, she couldn't be a member of the Academy of Sciences
  • The Curie Museum in Paris is lovely, but it's tiny. There are old-dead generals with more recognition than she gets in Paris, and that is outrageous!
  • No use of the first person in formal papers which makes it difficult to decide who did what

Curie Museum in Paris

  • Marie Curie was not only hard-working, she was brilliant as well
  • Albert Einstein said "Marie Curie is, of all beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted"

And finally, this is the standard response people received when they requested an autograph picture:

Curie Museum in Paris
Madame Curie does not wish to sign autographs or sign pictures; she asks for your indulgence.

Official website for the Curie Museum in Paris

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Discussed in this Episode

  • Notable French people
  • Science

Category

Museums in Paris

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