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Marie Curie's belongings are kept away from the reach of people for a shocking reason

Marie Curie's belongings are still placed in a lead box to prevent them from anyone touching them for shocking reason.

Marie Curie's belongings are kept away from the reach of people for a shocking reason
Image Source: Polish-French physicist Marie Curie (1867 - 1934) in a laboratory, circa 1905. Photo By Henri Manuel, Paris, France. (Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images)

Marie Curie is one of the biggest names in the Science community. Her achievements continue to have an impact, even to this day. For her discoveries, she won the Nobel Prize twice but had to give up her life in the pursuit. Her research put her in the path of a large amount of radiation, which ultimately proved to be dangerous to her life. The amount of radiation was so large that even to this day her belongings and notes are considered hazardous to the common public and kept in an enclosed space, per My Modern Met.

Image Source: (Original Caption) Madame Curie in her laboratory ca. 1905. From a rare photograph.
Image Source: Madame Curie in her laboratory, ca. 1905. From a rare photograph. (Getty images)

The scientist was a native of Poland. Later on in life, she adopted France as her home. In their French home, she and her husband, Pierre, conducted experiments with radioactive elements like uranium. The couple did not have a lot of financial support for their research and had to conduct experiments under difficult conditions, as per the official website of the Nobel Prize. In order to sustain themselves, they took up various teaching positions. They were inspired by the findings of Henri Becquerel on the topic of radioactivity.

Image Source: Marie Sklodowka Curie (1867 - 1934) in her laboratory. She shared a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband Pierre for their work in radioactivity. In 1911 she became one of the few people to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemisty for her discovery of poloium and radium. Her daugther and son-in-law also shared a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for work in radioactive materials. He went on to become the first chairman of the French atomic energy commission. France. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Image Source: Marie Sklodowka Curie (1867 - 1934) in her laboratory. She shared a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 with her husband Pierre for their work in radioactivity. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Throughout her lifetime, the scientist garnered a ton of accolades. She became the first female professor of general physics in the Faculty of Sciences. Later on, she was appointed Director of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute of the University of Paris. She was also an esteemed member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay. Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in particular. The couple's experiments aided in the discoveries of polonium and radium. The process though, caused her to develop aplastic anemia. The condition happened because of the radiation she underwent all through the years. As per the research on these radioactive elements, Curie's things will continue to emit radiation for at least the next 1500 years.

Image Source: Marie Curie in 1931, three years before her death. MC: Polish-born French physicist and pioneer in radioactivity, 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934 (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)
Image Source: Marie Curie in 1931, three years before her death. MC: Polish-born French physicist and pioneer in radioactivity, 7 November 1867, 4 July 1934. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

There was not a lot of knowledge regarding the radioactive elements when Curie was working; therefore, her home and office space did not have important protective measures in place. Even after her death, the authorities did not put into place proper protective measures for her belongings. The Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Paris Faculty of Science and the Curie Foundation both used her house until the 1970s in various capacities. It took until 1991 for the authorities to demolish the buildings. The papers, because of the knowledge they contained, were safely transported to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. They were found to be contaminated by radium 226, which survives for 1,600 years. Hence, researchers have come to the conclusion that it will take 15 more centuries for the radiation to be cut in half.

Image Source: Marie Curie, Polish-born French physicist, in her laboratory, 1913. Marie (1867-1934) and her husband Pierre Curie continued the work on radioactivity started by Henri Becquerel. In 1898, they discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. Marie did most of the work of producing these elements, and to this day her notebooks are still too radioactive to use. She went on to become the first woman to be awarded a doctorate in France, and continued her work after Pierre's death in 1906. In 1903 the Curies shared the Nobel Prize for Physics with Becquerel. Marie won a second Nobel Prize, for chemistry, in 1911. (Photo by Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Image Source: Marie Curie, Polish-born French physicist, in her laboratory, 1913. Marie (1867-1934) and her husband Pierre Curie continued the work on radioactivity started by Henri Becquerel. (Photo by Oxford Science Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images)

At present, Curie's papers and other possessions are in lead boxes to prevent the radiation from coming out. Visitors are allowed to examine these materials, but they must do so at their own discretion. They need to sign a waiver and also wear protective clothing near those specimens. Curie and her husband, both for safety purposes, were moved from their resting places to the Panthéon. These precautions against radiation are largely in place because of Curie's research. Without her work, it would have taken much longer for people to figure out the drawbacks of radiation.



 

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