Marie and Pierre Curie and the Discovery of Polonium and Radium
Now, however, there occurred an event that was to be of decisive importance in her life. She met Pierre Curie. He was 35 years, eight years older, and an internationally known physicist, but an outsider in the French scientific community - a serious idealist and dreamer whose greatest wish was to be able to devote his life to scientific work. He was completely indifferent to outward distinctions and a career. He earned a living as the head of a laboratory at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry where engineeers were trained and he lived for his research into crystals and into the magnetic properties of bodies at different temperatures. He had not attended one of the French elite schools but had been taught by his father, who was a physician, and by a private teacher. He passed his baccalaureat at the early age of 16 and at 21, with his brother Jacques, he had discovered piezoelectricity, which means that a difference in electrical potential is seen when mechanical stresses are applied on certain crystals, including quartz. Such crystals are now used in microphones, electronic apparatus and clocks.
Marie, too, was an idealist; though outwardly shy and retiring, she was in reality energetic and single-minded. Pierre and Marie immediately discovered an intellectual affinity, which was very soon transformed into deeper feelings. In July 1895, they were married at the town hall at Sceaux, where Pierre's parents lived. They were given money as a wedding present which they used to buy a bicycle for each of them, and long, sometimes adventurous, cycle rides became their way of relaxing. Their life was otherwise quietly monotonous, a life filled with work and study.
Persuaded by his father and by Marie, Pierre submitted his doctoral thesis in 1895. It concerned various types of magnetism, and contained a presentation of the connection between temperature and magnetism that is now known as Curie's Law. In 1896, Marie passed her teacher's diploma, coming first in her group. Their daughter Irène was born in September 1897. Pierre had managed to arrange that Marie should be allowed to work in the school's laboratory, and in 1897, she concluded a number of investigations into the magnetic properties of steel on behalf of an industrial association. Deciding after a time to go on doing research, Marie looked around for a subject for a doctoral thesis.
Becquerel's discovery had not aroused very much attention. When, just a day or so after his discovery, he informed the Monday meeting of l'Académie des Sciences, his colleagues listened politely, then went on to the next item on the agenda. It was Röntgen´s discovery and the possibilities it provided that were the focus of the interest and enthusiasm of researchers. Becquerel himself made certain important observations, for instance that gases through which the rays passed become able to conduct electricity, but he was soon to leave this field. Marie decided to make a systematic investigation of the mysterious "uranium rays". She had an excellent aid at her disposal - an electrometer for the measurement of weak electrical currents, which was constructed by Pierre and his brother, and was based on the piezoelectric effect.
Results were not long in coming. Just after a few days, Marie discovered that thorium gives off the same rays as uranium. Her continued systematic studies of the various chemical compounds gave the surprising result that the strength of the radiation did not depend on the compound that was being studied. It depended only on the amount of uranium or thorium. Chemical compounds of the same element generally have very different chemical and physical properties: one uranium compound is a dark powder, another is a transparent yellow crystal, but what was decisive for the radiation they gave off was only the amount of uranium they contained. Marie drew the conclusion that the ability to radiate did not depend on the arrangement of the atoms in a molecule, it must be linked to the interior of the atom itself. This discovery was absolutely revolutionary. From a conceptual point of view it is her most important contribution to the development of physics. She now went through the whole periodic system. Her findings were that only uranium and thorium gave off this radiation.
Marie's next idea, seemingly simple but brilliant, was to study the natural ores that contain uranium and thorium. She obtained samples from geological museums and found that of these ores, pitchblende was four to five times more active than was motivated by the amount of uranium. It was her hypothesis that a new element that was considerably more active than uranium was present in small amounts in the ore.
Marie and Pierre - A Fruitful Collaboration
Fascinating new vistas were opening up. Pierre gave up his research into crystals and symmetry in nature which he was deeply involved in and joined Marie in her project. They found that the strong activity came with the fractions containing bismuth or barium. When Marie continued her analysis of the bismuth fractions, she found that every time she managed to take away an amount of bismuth, a residue with greater activity was left. At the end of June 1898, they had a substance that was about 300 times more strongly active than uranium. In the work they published in July 1898, they write, "We thus believe that the substance that we have extracted from pitchblende contains a metal never known before, akin to bismuth in its analytic properties. If the existence of this new metal is confirmed, we suggest that it should be called polonium after the name of the country of origin of one of us." It was also in this work that they used the term radioactivity for the first time. After another few months of work, the Curies informed the l'Académie des Sciences, on December 26, 1898, that they had demonstrated strong grounds for having come upon an additional very active substance that behaved chemically almost like pure barium. They suggested the name of radium for the new element.
In order to be certain of showing that it was a matter of new elements, the Curies would have to produce them in demonstrable amounts, determine their atomic weight and preferably isolate them. To do so, the Curies would need tons of the costly pitchblende. However, it was known that at the Joachimsthal mine in Bohemia large slag-heaps had been left in the surrounding forests. Marie considered that radium ought to be left in the residue. A sample was sent to them from Bohemia and the slag was found to be even more active than the original mineral. Several tons of pitchblende was later put at their disposal through the good offices of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
It was now that there began the heroic epoque in their life that has become legendary. At this stage they needed more room, and the principal of the school where Pierre worked once again came to their aid. They could use a large shed which was not occupied. There the very laborious work of separation and analysis began. Marie carried out the chemical separations, Pierre undertook the measurements after each successive step. Physically it was heavy work for Marie. She processed 20 kilos of raw material at a time. First of all she had to clear away pine needles and any perceptible debris, then she had to undertake the work of separation. "Sometimes I had to spend a whole day stirring a boiling mass with a heavy iron rod nearly as big as myself. I would be broken with fatigue at day's end," she writes.
In a preface to Pierre Curie's collected works, Marie describes the shed as having a bituminous floor, and a glass roof which provided incomplete protection against the rain, and where it was like a hothouse in the summer, draughty and cold in the winter; yet it was in that shed that they spent the best and happiest years of their lives. There they could devote themselves to work the livelong day. Sometimes they could not do their processing outdoors, so the noxious gases had to be let out through the open windows. The only furniture were old, worn pine tables where Marie worked with her costly radium fractions. Since they did not have any shelter in which to store their precious products the latter were arranged on tables and boards. Marie could remember the joy they felt when they came into the shed at night, seeing "from all sides the feebly luminous silhouettes" of the products of their work. The dangerous gases of which Marie speaks contained, among other things, radon - the radioactive gas which is a matter of concern to us today since small amounts are emitted from certain kinds of building materials. Wilhelm Ostwald, the highly respected German chemist, who was one of the first to realize the importance of the Curies' research, traveled from Berlin to Paris to see how they worked. Neither Pierre nor Marie was at home. He wrote: "At my earnest request, I was shown the laboratory where radium had been discovered shortly before.... It was a cross between a stable and a potato shed, and if I had not seen the worktable and items of chemical apparatus, I would have thought that I was been played a practical joke."
A little celebration in Marie's honour, was arranged in the evening by a research colleague, Paul Langevin. The guests included Jean Perrin, a prominent professor at the Sorbonne, and Ernest Rutherford, who was then working in Canada but temporarily in Paris and anxious to meet Marie Curie. He had good reason. His study of the deflection of radiation in magnetic fields had not met with success until he had been sent a strongly radioactive preparation by the Curies. By that time he was already famous and was soon to be considered as the greatest experimental physicist of the day. It was a warmish evening and the group went out into the garden. Pierre had prepared an effective finale to the day. When they had all sat down, he drew from his waistcoat pocket a little tube, partly coated with zinc sulfide, which contained a quantity of radium salt in solution. Suddenly the tube became luminous, lighting up the darkness, and the group stared at the display in wonder, quietly and solemnly. But in the light from the tube, Rutherford saw that Pierre's fingers were scarred and inflamed and that he was finding it hard to hold the tube.
Serious Health Problems
A week earlier Marie and Pierre had been invited to the Royal Institution in London where Pierre gave a lecture. Before the crowded auditorium he showed how radium rapidly affected photographic plates wrapped in paper, how the substance gave off heat; in the semi-darkness he demonstrated the spectacular light effect. He described the medical tests he had tried out on himself. He had wrapped a sample of radium salts in a thin rubber covering and bound it to his arm for ten hours, then had studied the wound, which resembled a burn, day by day. After 52 days a permanent grey scar remained. In that connection Pierre mentioned the possibility of radium being able to be used in the treatment of cancer. But Pierre's scarred hands shook so that once he happened to spill a little of the costly preparation. Fifty years afterwards the presence of radioactivity was discovered on the premises and certain surfaces had to be cleaned.
In actual fact Pierre was ill. His legs shook so that at times he found it hard to stand upright. He was in much pain. He consulted a doctor who diagnosed neurasthenia and prescribed strychnine. And the skin on Marie's fingers was cracked and scarred. Both of them constantly suffered from fatigue. They evidently had no idea that radiation could have a detrimental effect on their general state of health. Pierre, who liked to say that radium had a million times stronger radioactivity than uranium, often carried a sample in his waistcoat pocket to show his friends. Marie liked to have a little radium salt by her bed that shone in the darkness. The papers they left behind them give off pronounced radioactivity. If today at the Bibliothèque Nationale you want to consult the three black notebooks in which their work from December 1897 and the three following years is recorded, you have to sign a certificate that you do so at your own risk. People will have to do this for a long time to come. In fact it takes 1,620 years before the activity of radium is reduced to a half.
Rutherford was just as unsuspecting in regard to the hazards as were the Curies. When it turned out that one of his colleagues who had worked with radioactive substances for several months was able to discharge an electroscope by exhaling, Rutherford expressed his delight. This confirmed his theory of the existence of airborne emanations.
In view of the potential for the use of radium in medicine, factories began to be built in the USA for its large-scale production. The question came up of whether or not Marie and Pierre should apply for a patent for the production process. They were both against doing so. Pure research should be carried out for its own sake and must not become mixed up with industry's profit motive. Researchers should be disinterested and make their findings available to everyone. Marie and Pierre were generous in supplying their fellow researchers, Rutherford included, with the preparations they had so laboriously produced. They furnished industry with descriptions of the production process.
In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded half the Nobel Prize in Physics. The citation was, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel." Henri Becquerel was awarded the other half for his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. In a letter to the Swedish Academy of Sciences, Pierre explains that neither of them is able to come to Stockholm to receive the prize. They could not get away because of their teaching obligations. He adds, "Mme Curie has been ill this summer and is not yet completely recovered." That was certaintly true but his own health was no better. Not until June 1905 did they go to Stockholm, where Pierre gave a Nobel lecture.
At the prize award ceremony, the president of the Swedish Academy referred in his speech to the old proverb: "union gives strength." He went on to quote from the Book of Genesis, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
Although the Nobel Prize alleviated their financial worries, the Curies now suddenly found themselves the focus of the interest of the public and the press. Their seemingly romantic story, their labours in intolerable conditions, the remarkable new element which could disintegrate and give off heat from what was apparently an inexhaustible source, all these things made the reports into fairy-tales. At the center was Marie, a frail woman who with a gigantic wand had ground down tons of pitchblende in order to extract a tiny amount of a magical element. Even Le Figaro, otherwise a sensible newspaper, began with "Once upon a time..." They were pursued by journalists from the whole world - a situation they could not deal with. Marie wrote, "The shattering of our voluntary isolation was a cause of real suffering for us and had all the effects of disaster." Pierre wrote in July 1905, "A whole year has passed since I was able to do any work.... evidently I have not found the way of defending us against frittering away our time, and yet it is very necessary. It is a question of life or death from the intellectual point of view."
But as Elisabeth Crawford emphasizes in her book The Beginnings of the Nobel Institution, from the latter's viewpoint, the awarding of the 1903 Prize for Physics was masterly. Formerly, only the Prize for Literature and the Peace Prize had obtained wide press coverage; the Prizes for scientific subjects had been considered all too esoteric to be able to interest the general public. The commotion centered on the award of the Prize to the Curies, especially Marie Curie, aroused once and for all the curiosity of the press and the public. The work of researchers was exciting, their findings fascinating.
The health of both Marie and Pierre Curie gave rise to concern. Their friends tried to make them work less. All their symptoms were ascribed to the drafty shed and to overexertion. Their dearest wish was to have a new laboratory but no such laboratory was in prospect. When Paul Appell, the dean of the faculty of sciences, appealed to Pierre to let his name be put forward as a recipient for the prestigious Legion of Honor on July 14,1903, Pierre replied, "....I do not feel the slightest need of being decorated, but I am in the greatest need of a laboratory." Although Pierre was given a chair at the Sorbonne in 1904 with the promise of a laboratory, as late as 1906 it had still not begun to be built. Pierre was given access to some rooms in a building used for study by young medical students. Pierre Curie never obtained a real laboratory.
On April 19, 1906, Pierre Curie was run over by a horse-drawn wagon near the Pont Neuf in Paris and killed. Now Marie was left alone with two daughters, Irène aged 9 and Ève aged 2. Shock broke her down totally to begin with. But even now she could draw on the toughness and perseverance that were fundamental aspects of her character. When she was offered a pension, she refused it: I am 38 and able to support myself, was her answer. She was appointed to succeed Pierre as the head of the laboratory, being undoubtedly most suitable, and to be responsible for his teaching duties. She thus became the first woman ever appointed to teach at the Sorbonne. After some months, in November 1906, she gave her first lecture. The large amphitheater was packed. As well as students, her audience included people from far and near, journalists and photographers were in attendance. Many people had expected something unusual to occur. Perhaps some manifestation of the historic occasion. When Marie entered, thin, pale and tense, she was met by an ovation. However the expectations of something other than a clear and factual lecture on physics were not fulfilled. But Marie's personality, her aura of simplicity and competence made a great impression.
Irène was now 9 years old. Marie had definite ideas about the upbringing and education of children that she now wanted to put into practice. Her circle of friends consisted of a small group of professors with children of school age. Marie organized a private school with the parents themselves acting as teachers. A group of some ten children were accordingly taught only by prominent professors: Jean Perrin, Paul Langevin, Édouard Chavannes, a professor of Chinese, Henri Mouton from the Pasteur Institute, a sculptor was engaged for modeling and drawing. Marie took the view that scientific subjects should be taught at an early age but not according to a too rigid curriculum. It was important for children to be able to develop freely. Games and physical activities took up much of the time. Quite a lot of time was taken for travel, too, for the children had to travel to the homes of their teachers, to Marie at Sceaux or to Langevin's lessons in one of the Paris suburbs. The little group became a kind of school for the elite with a great emphasis on science. The children involved say that they have happy memories of that time. For Irène it was in those years that the foundation of her development into a researcher was laid. The educational experiment lasted two years. Subsequently the pupils had to prepare for their forthcoming baccalauréat exam and to follow the traditional educational programs.
A Second Nobel Prize
In 1908 Marie, as the first woman ever, was appointed to become a professor at the Sorbonne. She went on to produce several decigrams of very pure radium chloride before finally, in collaboration with André Debierne, she was able to isolate radium in metallic form. André Debierne, who began as a laboratory assistant, became her faithful collaborator until her death and then succeeded her as head of the laboratory. In 1911 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The citation by the Nobel Committee was, "in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element."
Now that the archives have been made available to the public, it is possible to study in detail the events surrounding the awarding of the two Prizes, in 1903 and 1911. In a letter in 1903, several members of the l'Académie des Sciences, including Henri Poincaré and Gaston Darboux, had nominated Becquerel and Pierre Curie for the Prize in Physics. Marie's name was not mentioned. This caused Gösta Mittag-Leffler, a professor of mathematics at Stockholm University College, to write to Pierre Curie. That letter has never survived but Pierre Curie's answer, dated August 6, 1903, has been preserved. He wrote, "If it is true that one is seriously thinking about me (for the Prize), I very much wish to be considered together with Madame Curie with respect to our research on radioactive bodies." Drawing attention to the role she played in the discovery of radium and polonium, he added, "Do you not think that it would be more satisfying from the artistic point of view, if we were to be associated in this manner?" (plus joli d'un point de vue artistique).
Some biographers have questioned whether Marie deserved the Prize for Chemistry in 1911. They have claimed that the discoveries of radium and polonium were part of the reason for the Prize in 1903, even though this was not stated explicitly. Marie was said to have been awarded the Prize again for the same discovery, the award possibly being an expression of sympathy for reasons that will be mentioned below. Actually, however, the citation for the Prize in 1903 was worded deliberately with a view to a future Prize in Chemistry. Chemists considered that the discovery and isolation of radium was the greatest event in chemistry since the discovery of oxygen. That for the first time in history it could be shown that an element could be transmuted into another element, revolutionized chemistry and signified a new epoch.
A Terrible Year
Rejected by the Academy
Despite the second Nobel Prize and an invitation to the first Solvay Conference with the world's leading physicists, including Einstein, Poincaré and Planck, 1911 became a dark year in Marie's life. In two smear campaigns she was to experience the inconstancy of the French press. The first was started on 16 November 1910, when, by an article in Le Figaro, it became known that she was willing to be nominated for election to l'Académie des Sciences. Examples of factors other than merit deciding an election did exist, but Marie herself and her eminent research colleagues seemed to have considered that with her exceptionally brilliant scientific merits, her election was self-evident. Notwithstanding, it turned out that it was not merit that was decisive. The dark underlying currents of anti-Semitism, prejudice against women, xenophobia and even anti-science attitudes that existed in French society came welling up to the surface. Normally the election was of no interest to the press. The most rabid paper was the ultra-nationalistic and anti-Semitic L'Action Française, which was led by Léon Daudet, the son of the writer Alphonse Daudet. Dreyfus had got redress for his wrongs in 1906 and had been decorated with the Legion of Honour, but in the eyes of the groups who had been against him during his trial, he was still guilty, was still "the Jewish traitor." The pro-Dreyfus groups who had supported his cause were suspect and the scientists who were supporting Marie were among them. Jokes in bad taste alternated with outrageous accusations. It was said that in her career, Pierre's research had given her a free ride. She came from Poland, though admittedly she was formally a Catholic but her name Sklodowska indicated that she might be of Jewish origin, and so on. A week before the election, an opposing candidate, Édouard Branly, was launched. The vote on January 23, 1911 was taken in the presence of journalists, photographers and hordes of the curious. The election took place in a tumultuous atmosphere. In the first round Marie lost by one vote, in the second by two. In all, fifty-eight votes were cast. A Nobel Prize in 1903 and support from prominent researchers such as Jean Perrin, Henri Poincaré, Paul Appell and the permanent secretary of the Académie, Gaston Darboux, were not sufficient to make the Académie open its doors. This event attracted international attention and indignation. It deeply wounded both Marie and indeed Édouard Branly, too, himself a well-merited researcher.
Marie driving one of the radiology cars in 1917.
After the Peace Treaty in 1918, her Radium Institute, which had been completed in 1914, could now be opened. It became France's most internationally celebrated research institute in the inter-war years. Even so, as her French biographer Françoise Giroud points out, the French state did not do much in the way of supporting her. In the USA radium was manufactured industrially but at a price which Marie could not afford. She had to devote a lot of time to fund-raising for her Institute. She also became deeply involved when she had become a member of the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations and served as its vice-president for a time. She frequently took part in its meetings in Geneva, where she also met the Swedish delegate, Anna Wicksell.
Missy, like Marie herself, had an enormous strength and strong inner stamina under a frail exterior. She now arranged one of the largest and most successful research-funding campaigns the world has seen. First of all she got the New York papers to promise not to print a word on the Langevin affair and - so as to feel safe - unbelievably enough managed to take over all their material on the Langevin affair. Due to the press, Marie became enormously popular in America, and everyone seemed to want to meet her - the great Madame Curie. Missy had to struggle hard to get Marie to accept a program for her visit on a par with the campaign. Finally, she had to turn to Paul Appell, now the university chancellor, to persuade Marie. In spite of her diffidence and distaste for publicity, Marie agreed to go to America to receive the gift - a single gram of radium - from the hand of President Warren Harding. "I understand that it will be of the greatest value for my Institute," she wrote to Missy. When all this became known in France, the paper Je sais tout arranged a gala performance at the Paris Opera. It was attended by the most prominent personalities in France, including Aristide Briand, then Foreign Minister, who was later, in 1926, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Jean Perrin made a speech about Marie's contribution and the promises for the future that her discoveries gave. The great Sarah Bernhardt read an "Ode to Madame Curie" with allusions to her as the sister of Prometheus. After being dragged through the mud ten years before, she had become a modern Jeanne d'Arc.
Missy Maloney, Irène, Marie and Ève Curie in the USA.
Photo kindly provided by William Brown Maloney Papers, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, USA.
Marie and Missy became close friends. The inexhaustible Missy organized further collections for one gram of radium for an institute which Marie had helped found in Warsaw. Marie's second journey to America ended only a few days before the great stock exchange crash in 1929.
In the last ten years of her life, Marie had the joy of seeing her daughter Irène and her son-in-law Frédéric Joliot do successful research in the laboratory. She lived to see their discovery of artificial radioactivity, but not to hear that they had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for it in 1935. Marie Curie died of leukemia on July 4, 1934.
For the physicists of Marie Curie's day, the new discoveries were no less revolutionary. Although admittedly the world did not decay, what nevertheless did was the classical, deterministic view of the world. Radioactive decay, that heat is given off from an invisible and apparently inexhaustible source, that radioactive elements are transformed into new elements just as in the ancient dreams of alchemists of the possibility of making gold, all these things contravened the most entrenched principles of classical physics. For radioactivity to be understood, the development of quantum mechanics was required. But it should be noted that the birth of quantum mechanics was not initiated by the study of radioactivity but by Max Planck's study of radiation from a black body in 1900. It was an old field that was not the object of the same interest and publicity as the new spectacular discoveries. It was not until 1928, more than a quarter of a century later, that the type of radioactivity that is called alpha-decay obtained its theoretical explanation. It is an example of the tunnel effect in quantum mechanics.
Much has changed in the conditions under which researchers work since Marie and Pierre Curie worked in a drafty shed and refused to consider taking out a patent as being incompatible with their view of the role of researchers; a patent would nevertheless have facilitated their research and spared their health. But in one respect, the situation remains unchanged. Nature holds on just as hard to its really profound secrets, and it is just as difficult to predict where the answers to fundamental questions are to be found.
Names Mentioned in the Text
Appell, Paul (1855-1930), mathematician
Arrhenius, Svante (1859-1927), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1903
Ayrton, Hertha (1854-1923), English physicist
Becquerel, Henri (1852-1908), Nobel Prize in Physics 1903
Borel, Émile (1871-1956), mathematician
Borel, Marguerite, author, married to Émile Borel
Branly, Édouard (1844-1940), physicist
Briand, Aristide (1862-1932), eminent French statesman, Nobel Peace Prize 1926
Brillouin, Marcel (1854-1948), theoretical physicist
Darboux, Gaston (1842-1917), mathematician
Daudet, Léon (1867-1942), editor of L'Action Française
Debierne, André (1874-1949), Marie Curie's colleague for many years
Einstein, Albert (1879-1955), Nobel Prize in Physics 1921
Giroud, Françoise (1916- ), author, former minister
Gleditsch, Ellen (1879-1968), chemist
Hertz, Heinrich (1857-1894), physicist
Langevin, Paul (1872-1946), physicist
Lippmann, Gabriel (1845-1921), Nobel Prize in Physics 1908
Marconi, Guglielmo (1874-1937), Nobel Prize in Physics 1909
Mittag-Leffler, Gösta (1846-1927), mathematician
Moissan, Henri (1852-1907), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1906
Ostwald, Wilhelm (1853-1932), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1909
Painlevé, Paul (1863-1933), mathematician
Perrin, Jean (1870-1942) Nobel Prize in Physics 1926
Planck, Max (1858-1947), Nobel Prize in Physics 1918
Poincaré, Henri (1854-1912), mathematician, philosopher
Poincaré, Raymond (1860-1934), lawyer (president 1913-1920)
Ramstedt, Eva (1879-1974), physicist
Röntgen, Wilhelm Conrad (1845-1923), Nobel Prize in Physics 1901
Rutherford, Ernest (1871-1937), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1908
Soddy, Frederick (1877-1956), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1921
Strömholm, Daniel (1871-1961), chemist, professor at Uppsala University
Svedberg, The (1884-1971), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1926
Crawford, Elisabeth, The Beginnings of the Nobel Institution, The Science Prizes 1901-1915, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, & Edition de la Maison des Sciences, Paris, 1984.
Curie, Eve, Madame Curie, Gallimard, Paris, 1938. In English, Doubleday, New York.
Curie, Marie, Pierre Curie and Autobiographical Notes, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1923. Subsequently Marie Curie refused to authorize publication of her Autobiographical Notes in any other country.
Gleditsch, Ellen, Marie Sklodowska Curie (in Norwegian), Nordisk Tidskrift, Årg. 35, 1959.
Kandinsky, Wassily, Look Into the Past 1901-1913, The Blue Rider, Paul Klee. Franz Marc, New York, 1945.
Langevin, André, Paul Langevin, mon père, Les Éditeur Français Réunis, Paris, 1971.
Marbo, Camille (Pseudonym for Marguerite Borel), Souvenirs et Rencontres, Grasset, Paris, 1968.
McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch, Nobel Prize Women in Science, Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries, A Birch Lane Press Book, Carol Publishing Group, New York, 1993.
Nobel Lectures including Presentation Speeches and Laureates' Biographies, Physics 1901-21. Published for the Nobel Foundation in 1967 by Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam-London-New York.
Nobel Lectures including Presentation Speeches and Laureates' Biographies, Chemistry 1901-21. Published for the Nobel Foundation in 1967 by Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam-London-New York.
Pflaum, Rosalynd, Grand Obsession: Madame Curie and Her World, Doubleday, New York, 1989.
Quinn, Susan, Marie Curie: A Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995.
Ramstedt, Eva, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Kosmos. Papers on Physics (in Swedish) published by Svenska Fysikersamfundet, nr 12, 1934.