The merit of the physicist Maria Curie knows the whole world. It is she who owns the discovery of radium and polonium, she devoted her life to the study of radioactivity. Scientific activity brought her fame, twice she was awarded the Nobel Prize, but also caused her tragic death. The body of the Curie is buried in the French Pantheon in a special leaden coffin, and for that there is a weighty reason.
The Pantheon is the burial place of the outstanding figures of science and art of France. Here rest Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola and many other famous personalities. Only two women in history are honored to be buried in the Pantheon – Sophie Berthlo (survived by her husband for only a few hours, she was buried with him, it was a tribute to the outstanding physicist Marcelen Berthelot) and Marie Curie. Here lies the body of her husband – Pierre Curie, with whom in 1903 she jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Most of Marie Curie’s research was devoted to the theory of radioactivity. Among its achievements is the discovery of such radioactive elements as radium and polonium (the latter is named after the birthplace of Marie Curie – Poland). Unfortunately, the destructive effect of radiation on the human body at that time was not known, and Maria did not use special protection during the experiments in the laboratory.
Marie Curie paid for her brilliant discoveries in physics and chemistry at the cost of her health. In 1934 she died of ailment aplastic anemia, which was caused by the prolonged influence on her organism of polonium and radium. The victim of science was also her eldest daughter, Iren Joliot-Curie. She died of leukemia, the cause of which was the irradiation received from the experiments conducted by the mother.
Maria Curie died in 1934, her body was buried in a cemetery in the south of Paris next to the body of Pierre’s husband, who died 28 years earlier. The remains of the four great physicists were transferred to the Pantheon in 1995. At the same time, scientists have established that the remains emit radiation, so they need to be buried in leaden coffins. This is the only way to protect visitors and workers of the Pantheon.
Maria Curie worked with radium-226, the period of its half-life is 1,500 years. It will take such a long time that the Curie remains safe.
Since Marie Curie did not think about the dangers of her experiments, she often worked at home, many of her personal belongings were radioactive. For example, she could easily put samples of radium and polonium in her pocket on her way from work to do their research at home in her spare time. Clothes, books, notebooks, ornaments, even furniture in her house – are all dangerous today.
More than 80 years after her death, personal belongings of Maria Curie are stored in the National Library of France in special lead boxes. Anyone can, however, work with Maria Curie’s notebooks, but the library visitor signs a paper that takes responsibility for possible consequences and undertakes to work with folios in a protective suit.
It should be noted that for many years the radiation did not cause fear among scientists and was even considered useful for health. In the early twentieth century, many household items (for example, watches or kitchen accessories) contained radioactive elements simply because radium glows in the dark.
Household use of radiation was prohibited only in 1938 at the request of the Food and Drug Administration of America. Researchers have declared the destructive effect of radiation on the human body.
The first female Nobel laureate Maria Curie lived a life full of hardships and personal dramas. Poverty and mental suffering – the tests with which the brilliant scientist had to fight.