A new Google Doodle celebrates the birth of scientist Marie Curie on this day in 1867. Born in Poland, Curie moved to Paris in her early 20s to study mathematics and physics at the Sorbonne. She and husband Pierre are remembered for their groundbreaking work in physics and, later, in chemistry.
Google’s Doodle appears a watercolor or hand drawn depiction of Curie as you might imagine she spent a great deal of her time: sitting at a wooden table, jugs and beakers of chemicals at the ready, mixing and testing in front of windows revealing the blue skies of Paris beyond. The Google logo is sketched in pastel tones behind Curie. Clicking on the image links to search results for Marie Curie.
Curie and Pierre were awarded their first Nobel prize in 1903 after discovering polonium and radium, alongside the man who discovered radioactivity, Henri Becquerel. Curie named polonium after Poland, her country of origin. In 1911, Curie won a second Nobel prize, this time for her work in chemistry.
She championed the use of radium in medicine and helped to develop portable x-ray units for use in the first world war. Curie’s war efforts went far beyond this, however; she became director of the Red Cross radiological service and gathered supplies, vehicles, and monetary donations to support the cause.
In 1914, Curie became even more involved in the war and, with her 17-year-old daughter Irene, headed to the front lines. There, they worked at casualty clearing stations, performing x-rays on injured soldiers and training orderlies and doctors in radiology.
Curie died of bone marrow disease pernicious anaemia, caused by years of exposure to radiation, in 1934. She was interred at the Pantheon in Paris, the first woman to receive such a posthumous honor. In 2010, HarperCollins published Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout; today, Google’s Doodle celebrates the life and achievements of the most influential female scientist of her time.