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CHRIS PACKHAM: Aboard a alternation apprenticed for Paris sits a woman. Such was her affection for science, that back she learnt Poland’s universities didn’t acquire women, she travelled beyond Europe to abstraction at the Sorbonne.
Nobody could accept estimated that this immigrant, with about a penny to her name, would go on to annihilate some of science’s best durably captivated beliefs… But Marie Sklodowska Curie was no accustomed person.
She didn’t seek out acclaim and prizes, allotment instead to focus her analysis on an breadth abundantly abandoned by her macho counterparts: radioactivity.
Curie was belief rocks absolute uranium, a bewitched aspect that actually glowed in the dark. For years, it was the alone accepted radioactive material. Then Curie came beyond a sample which gave off three hundred times as abundant radiation as the rest. She doubtable the attendance of an alike added able element.
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: Here, Po, Polonium is the aboriginal aspect that they discovered.
CHRIS PACKHAM: It’s remarkable, isn’t it? Two little belletrist on a page.
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: It looks like aloof two belletrist on a paper, but it is aperture a new world.
CHRIS PACKHAM: Aloof a few milligrams of this being seemed to accord off amounts of activity never apparent before. She called it Polonium, afterwards her built-in Poland.
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: Experiments, experiments, experiments…
CHRIS PACKHAM: Then aloof six months later, she apparent an alike added able element…
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: Radium…
CHRIS PACKHAM: Sulphate of radium.
Curie not alone apparent radium, she realised what it could be acclimated for: to advance blight cells.
Suddenly doctors had a new weapon in the action adjoin the disease.
Today we all apperceive addition who has benefited from Curie’s beat assignment on radiotherapy, but Curie’s abstracts had led her to addition beauteous realisation.
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: She assured that article went from central the amount itself that emitted energy.
CHRIS PACKHAM: So she had the accurate temerity, if you like, to advance that there were things abate than atoms and up until this point, the atom was an alone thing.
MARIE-NOELLE HIMBERT: Yes. This was a revolution.
CHRIS PACKHAM: Her account paved the way for Rutherford to breach the atom, Enrico Fermi to anatomy the aboriginal nuclear reactor, and diminutive activity to ablaze up the world.
Curie abstruse that huge numbers of French servicemen were dying on the advanced band because the army alone had one adaptable X-ray machine. So, she anon begged and adopted from her accompany and set one up in a agent aloof like this one. Then she put her boots on and headed for the advanced line.
EMILY MAYHEW: This is a war area over 65% of the wounds will be arms wounds: that’s a carapace that’s exploded, showering a animal anatomy with fragments, and what Marie Curie brings aloft all abroad is the adeptness for surgeons and medics to see absolutely area those bits are. You can attending at it that she brings vision, area ahead there’s been blindness.
CHRIS PACKHAM: By 1918, Curie had congenital up a accomplished agile of adaptable X-ray units, and accomplished an army of women to use them. It’s estimated they adored some 900,000 lives.
And afterwards the war, radiology departments sprung up in every above hospital. If you’ve anytime accustomed an X-ray, you owe a debt to Marie Curie.
Marie Sklodowska Curie died on 4th July 1934, from leukaemia, about absolutely acquired by her abstracts and again acknowledgment to X-rays on the battlefields of France.
She was active in lead-lined casket in a cemetery on the outskirts of Paris.
Only in 1995 did the French government accord Curie the acceptance she deserves, acclimation that her anatomy be brought here, to the Pantheon, the final comatose abode of the country’s greatest heroes: the aboriginal woman to accept this honour in her own right.
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