Friday, June 10, 2011



"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. 
Now is the time to understand more, 
so that we may fear less."
Marie Curie


International Year of Chemistry 2011

The 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011) under the leadership of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). 

IYC 2011 commemorates the centenaries of the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies, which later became the IUPAC, and the awarding of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Marie Curie (1867–1934).

The proclamation by the United Nations of the International Year of Chemistry "Chemistry–our life, our future", and focuses on the “achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well-being of humankind”. It aims to raise awareness of chemistry among the general public and to attract young people into the field, as well as to highlight the role of chemistry in solving global problems.

The year 2011 has been declared the Year of Marie Curie by France and Poland. "Madame Curie," which fills the Jacobs gallery at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s downtown space, is an artistic installation celebrating the scientist.

As one of the most famous female scientists to date, Marie Curie has been an icon in the scientific world and has inspired many tributes and recognitions. Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.  Marie Curie has been honoured with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 41 times between 1901 and 2010.


The male brotherhoods of the time had refused to accept Marie as their equal, even after all of her discoveries. They
offered no proper assistance for her physically challenging works, other than mockery, when awarded the Nobel Prize for that year. The males of her time kept most of the upper studies for themselves. Which was their practice most years, they even refused her entry into their "Academy of the Sciences" then.


Her achievements include a theory of radioactivity (a term that she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world's first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms, using radioactive isotopes. 

She founded the Curie Institutes: the Curie Institute (Paris) and the Curie Institute (Warsaw). In 1932 she founded a Radium Institute (now the Maria Skłodowska–Curie Institute of Oncology) in her home town, Warsaw, headed by her physician-sister Bronisława.

This is an approximately life-size statue of Maria Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934), erected in 1935 in a Warsaw park at ulica Wawelska and ulica Marii Skłodowskiej-Curie. The statue faces the Radium Institute that she had established in 1932.

During World War I, Marie Curie pushed for the use of mobile radiography units, which came to be popularly known as petites Curies ("Little Curies"), for the treatment of wounded soldiers. These units were powered using tubes of radium emanation, a colorless, radioactive gas given off by radium, later identified as radon. Marie Curie provided the tubes of radium, derived from the material she purified. 

Also, promptly after the war started, she donated the gold Nobel Prize medals she and her husband had been awarded, to the war effort. She was also active member in committees of Polish Polonia in France dedicated to Polish cause.


Marie Curie was born Marya Salomee Sklodowska on 7th November, 1867, Poland when that part of the country was under Russian rule. While an actively loyal French citizen, she never lost her sense of Polish identity. She named the first chemical element that she discovered "polonium" (1898) for her native country. During World War I she became a member of the Committee for a Free Poland (Komitet Wolnej Polski).


In 1923 the French government gave her a pension of 40,000 francs a year in recognition of her lifetime of work in France.

Skłodowska–Curie visited Poland for the last time in the spring of 1934. Only a few months later, she became ill and on 4 July 1934 died at the Sancellemoz  Sanatorium in Passy, in Haute-Savoie, eastern France  from aplastic anemia contracted from years of exposure to radiation. Today doctors identify the disease as leukemia.

In 1995 she was the first woman to be entombed on her   own merits in the Panthéon, Paris, alongside her husband Pierre Curie.

Marie Curie's likeness appeared on the Polish late-1980s inflationary 20,000-złoty banknote. Her likeness also has appeared on stamps and coins, as well as on the last French 500-franc note, before the franc was replaced by the euro.

In a 2009 poll carried out by New Scientist, Marie Curie was voted the "most inspirational woman in science". Curie received 25.1 per cent of all votes cast, nearly twice as many as second-place Rosalind Franklin (14.2 per cent).

Learn more on Marie Curie here and here.

1 comment:

  1. hi katrina, i have been visiting your site with no changes, so i stopped, now i am a bit shocked that you have published this article. :)
    lawak betui..
    thanks for sharing about marie curie. its a good reminder for women to continue reaching out a helping hand to the sick.