Marie Curie And Her 'The Most Noble' Family

No household has won as many Nobel prizes as the Curies.


Most researchers spend their lifetimes to win one Noble prize. Marie Curie won two. Most families would be happy to have one Noble laureate in their family. The Curie household has five!




Marie Curie almost didn't win her first physics Nobel in 1903 jointly with her husband Pierre for their study of radiation, which they shared it with Henri Becquerel, who won it for his observation of spontaneous radiation in uranium. Members of the French Academy of Sciences had only nominated Pierre and Becquerel but gave in to Pierre's insistence of including Marie. The win made her the first woman Nobel recipient. Even then, she was largely ignored at the award ceremony. Tragedy struck her after just three years after when Pierre was run over by a horse-drawn cart.




Shattered but undeterred, she powered on and eight years later, went on to claim a solo recognition in chemistry for her discovery of radium and polonium. Yet again, many criticized the decision arguing it to be essentially the same as her earlier work. Anyway, now she became the first person to win two Nobels, the only female so far to do so. She also became the first person to win a Nobel in more than one scientific field besides having been the first woman to receive a PhD in France and the first female professor at Sorbonne.


Third and Fourth


Irene, Marie's eldest daughter, was only six when her mother won the prize. During World War I, still a teenager she assisted her mother with X-rays in the battlefront, even imparting radiation courses before earning her university degree. Later working as her mother's assistant at the Radium Institute, she met Frédéric Joliot, a trainee engineer there. They married in 1926 and in 1934; the couple successfully harvested radioactive atoms in a lab. Both shared a chemistry Nobel the next year. Irene and her parents became the only daughter-mother and daughter-father pairs ever to receive the most coveted medal in science.


As in life so in death, both mother and daughter died of prolonged exposure to radiation.




Younger to Irene by seven years, Eve was given more to socialising than studies. A concert pianist and a journalist, Eve found success as a writer with her mother's biography titled, 'Madame Curie,' in 1965. After WWII, Ève had turned to humanitarian work and was appointed special adviser to the first secretary-general of NATO, in 1952. Her work was felicitated by the Nobel committee in 1965, making her the fifth person in the Curie household to bring home that glory.