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Pierre and Marie Curie - A man and a woman working on a machine


Pierre and Marie Curie - A man and a woman working on a machine



Pierre and Marie Curie in the laboratory, demonstrating the experimental apparatus used to detect the ionsation of air, and hence the radioactivity, of samples of purified ore which enabled their discovery of radium.

Marie is operating the apparatus. With her right hand she is adding/subtracting known weights from a pan hanging from a strip of piezo-electric material which generates a very small elecrical charge (in the region of pico-amps) according to the weight hung on it. This is nulled against the charge accumulated on an ion chamber due to radioactivity. In her left hand she has a stopwatch to measure the rate of change of charge using a quadrant electrometer. When the weight is changed, the time elapsed for the charge to be nulled is measured by the stopwatch. The charge is indicated by a light spot on the scale in front of her projected by the quadrant electrometer, which is off the left of the picture.

Marie Curie (1867–1934), Polish-born French physicist, famous for her work on radioactivity and twice a winner of the Nobel Prize. With Henri Becquerel and her husband, Pierre Curie, she was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics. She was the sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and she is the only woman to win the award in two different fields.



1900 - 1940


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historical laboratory equipment
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