The Day After

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Love

“Life is not easy for any of us.  But what of that?  We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves.  We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

Marie Curie

Romance novels always stop at the beginning.   The real adventure starts the day after“happily ever after.”

Marie (Maria) Sklodowska was brilliant and determined.  Denied a university education based on the cultural norms of the late 1800’s, she pursued her studies at the local library and at Warsaw’s clandestine Floating University. She was a voracious reader and, as it turned out, a thrifty saver. In 1891, Marie used her hard-earned savings to move to Paris and study at the Sorbonne.  It was there that she met the love of her life,  Pierre Curie. A well-known and respected French chemist, he was impressed by Marie’s passion for science.  He enticed her by offering her work in the laboratory where he was a director.  They fell in love and married in 1895.

Pierre and Marie lived modestly, near poverty, using most of their funds for research.  They were happy doing what their loved, together. Their success was remarkable. In 1898, Pierre and Marie discovered polonium and radium.  In 1903, they won, with their fellow scientist Henri Becquerrel, a Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering radioactivity.  When Pierre Curie died in a street accident in Paris on April 19, 1906, Marie promised to continue their work. She accepted his position at the Sorbonne, becoming the university’s first female teacher.  In 1911, she was the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time for Chemistry.

Pierre and Marie believed that their work belonged to the whole world.  They refused to patent any of their lucrative discoveries and donated their gifts and awards to scientific institutions.  Marie lived for almost 30 years after the death of her husband. Every day, she fulfilled the pledge to the one she loved.

“I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.”

Marie Curie