Marie Curie: Yale Medical Library Exhibit Opens November 6

An exhibit in the rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library will commemorate the Centennial of the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel in October 1903.

The display opens on November 6 to coincide with the Marie Curie Nobel Centennial Celebration of Women in Science symposium.

Far more than any woman scientist before her and more than any woman scientist for decades afterwards, Marie Curie was part of the mainstream of science. She obtained a thorough scientific education from some of the leading physicists and mathematicians in Paris. On her own, and with her husband, Pierre Curie, she carried out pioneering research in radioactivity, a term that she coined.

The Curies discovered and investigated properties of two new radioactive elements, polonium and radium, and laid the basis for a new area of science, as well as for a new form of medical treatment. Marie Curie’s work formed part of the succession of major discoveries that transformed nineteenth-century classical physics into 20th-century atomic and nuclear physics.

For her achievements, she was awarded two Nobel prizes, the first in physics in 1903 and another in chemistry in 1911. She became the first woman to hold a chair at the University of Paris, and to have charge of a major laboratory where students carried out doctoral research and visiting scientists received fellowships.

Despite tremendous obstacles for women in science, she succeeded in her extraordinary scientific career through her brilliant intellect, excellent training and scientific connections, perseverance, managerial skills, and the timing of events in her life. Although personally shy and reticent, Marie Curie became, and is likely to remain, the most celebrated woman scientist in history.

Librarian Toby Appel curates the exhibit, sponsored by Cushing/Whitney Medical Library. The exhibit runs until mid-March 2004.

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Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157