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(kürē`), family of French scientists. Pierre Curie, 1859–1906, scientist, and his wife, Marie Sklodowska Curie, 1867–1934, chemist and physicist, b. Warsaw, are known for their work on radioactivity and on radium. The Curies' daughter Irène (see under Joliot-CurieJoliot-Curie
, French scientists who were husband and wife. Frédéric Joliot-Curie , 1900–1958, formerly Frédéric Joliot, and Irène Joliot-Curie , 1897–1956, daughter of Pierre and Marie Curie, were married in 1926.
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, family) was also a scientist.

Pierre Curie's early work dealt with crystallography and with the effects of temperature on magnetism; he discovered (1883) and, with his brother Jacques Curie, investigated piezoelectricity (a form of electric polarity) in crystals. Marie Sklodowska's interest in science was stimulated by her father, a professor of physics in Warsaw. In 1891 she went to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne. In 1895 she married Pierre Curie and engaged in independent research in his laboratory at the municipal school of physics and chemistry where Pierre was director of laboratories (from 1882) and professor (from 1895).

Following A. H. BecquerelBecquerel
, family of French physicists. Antoine César Becquerel, 1788–1878, was a pioneer in electrochemical science. He was professor of physics at the Muséum d'Histoire naturelle from 1838 until his death.
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's discovery of radioactivity, Mme Curie began to investigate uranium, a radioactive element found in pitchblende. In 1898 she reported a probable new element in pitchblende, and Pierre Curie joined in her research. They discovered (1898) both polonium and radium, laboriously isolated one gram of radium salts from about eight tons of pitchblende, and determined the atomic weights and properties of radium and polonium. The Curies refused to patent their processes or otherwise to profit from the commercial exploitation of radium. For their work on radioactivity they shared with Becquerel the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The Sorbonne created (1904) a special chair of physics for Pierre Curie; Marie Curie was appointed his successor after his death in a street accident. She also retained her professorship (assumed in 1900) at the normal school at Sèvres and continued her research. In 1910 she isolated (with André Debierne) metallic radium. As the recipient of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry she was the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize. She was made director of the laboratory of radioactivity at the Curie Institute of Radium, established jointly by the Univ. of Paris and the Pasteur Institute, for research on radioactivity and for radium therapy.

During World War I, Mme Curie devoted her energies to providing radiological services for hospitals. In 1921 a gram of radium, a gift from American women, was presented to her by President Harding; this she accepted in behalf of the Curie Institute. A second gram, presented in 1929, was given by Mme Curie to the newly founded Curie Institute in Warsaw. Five years later she died from the effects of radioactivity. In 1995 Marie and Pierre Curie's ashes were enshrined in the Panthéon, Paris; she was the first woman to be honored so in her own right.


Among the numerous and valuable writings of the Curies are Marie Curie's doctoral dissertation, Radioactive Substances (2 vol., 1902; tr. 1961); Traité de radioactivité (1910); Radioactivité (1935); and her biography of Pierre Curie (1923, tr. 1923). Pierre Curie's collected works appeared in 1908. A biography of Marie Curie was written by her daughter Ève Curie (tr. 1937). See also biographies by R. W. Reid (1974), F. Giroud (tr. 1986), S. Quinn (1995), and B. Goldsmith (2004); S. Emling, Marie Curie and Her Daughters (2012).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a subsidiary unit of the activity of a nuclide in a radioactive source (activity of an isotope). The unit was named in honor of the French scientists P. Curie and M. Sklodowska Curie. It is abbreviated Ci in international usage. The curie unit was originally defined (1910) as the quantity of radon (radium emanation) in radioactive equilibrium with 1 g of radium. The quantity of radon corresponding to 1 curie has a mass of 6.51 × 10–6g and contains 1.78 × 1016 atoms. Measurements of the disintegration of radon with an activity of 1 Ci have yielded 3.7 × 1010 disintegrations per second. Refinement of the experimental data later led to abandonment of the relationship between the curie unit and the quantity of radon. The curie unit is the activity of any nuclide in which 3.700 × 1010 disintegrations take place per second.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A unit of radioactivity, defined as that quantity of any radioactive nuclide which has 3.700 × 1010 disintegrations per second. Abbreviated c; Ci.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a unit of radioactivity that is equal to 3.7 × 1010 disintegrations per second.


1. Marie . 1867--1934, French physicist and chemist, born in Poland: discovered with her husband Pierre the radioactivity of thorium, and discovered and isolated radium and polonium. She shared a Nobel prize for physics (1903) with her husband and Henri Becquerel, and was awarded a Nobel prize for chemistry (1911)
2. her husband, Pierre . 1859--1906, French physicist and chemist
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Why not the Age of Curie? Citing polls and other evidence of the persisting fame of Marie Curie throughout the twentieth century to the present day, Eva Hemmungs Wirten responds that Curie, because gender intervenes, is not as easily generalizable as Newton, Darwin, Einstein, and a few other men whose names designate an era.
She seems to have been drawn to Curie because the scientist had both positioned herself in relationship to the idea of proprietary rights to radium and, later in life, became active in the discussion about the property rights of intellectuals.
Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize twice: in physics in 1903 and in chemistry in 1911.
By the time she won a second Nobel Prize, eight years later, Marie Curie had lost her "excellent companion" Pierre in a tragic accident in the streets of Paris.
"Like many people some of the staff members have been touched by cancer and other lifelimiting illnesses and Marie Curie Cancer Care is a cause they want to support."
At the purpose-built hospice in the West End of Newcastle, Marie Curie Cancer Care cares for over 400 people from across the North East as inpatients as well as offering an extensive day service for out-patients.
It took Marie Curie only three years to earn degrees in mathematics and physics.
Along with her husband and Becquerel, Curie was awarded in 1903 the Nobel Prize in physics for research into radioactivity.
The main characters in her life are described: her father, a thwarted scientist whose graft aids her initial advances; her reserved husband Pierre Curie, a genius with whom she shared an intimate passion; and the couple's children who suffer greatly from their mother's depression and the premature loss of their father.
Equally as fascinating is the race within science; the political backdrop (a world war and the suffragette movement); a scandalous affair; her enduring friendships and Curie's lasting legacy, both within research and through her Nobel prize-winning children.
In 1898 Marie Curie showed that thorium, another heavy metal, also produced radiations, and she coined the term radioactivity for the phenomenon, so that it could be said that both uranium and thorium were radioactive.
Curie's accomplishments were numerous, monumental, and, like the elements she discovered, radiant.