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France & Poland Donate Sculpture of Marie Curie-Sklodowska

Marie Curie Sculpture

The Marie Curie-Sklodowska sculpture displayed at the IAEA General Conference. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

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Poland and France this week donated to the IAEA a sculpture, dated 1930, by Polish artist Ludwika Nitschowa, representing Marie Curie-Sklodowska, the famous Nobel Laureate scientist. The donation was made on the occasion of the 50th IAEA General Conference meeting in Vienna.

"Both nations wish to associate the IAEA and its Director General, honoured by the Nobel Prize for their contributions to progress and peace, with Marie Curie-Sklodowska in this homage," a joint statement said.

Marie Curie-Sklodowska (18671934) was an eminent scientist born in Warsaw, Poland. In 1903 she became the first woman in France to complete her doctorate, and the same year, together with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri Becquerel, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena".

Later, Marie Curie-Sklodowska demonstrated that radioactivity is an atomic property and in 1911 was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry, for the discovery of polonium (named this way to pay tribute to her native land) and radium, and the study of its properties.

At the cost of her life, Marie Curie-Sklodowska launched one of the greatest adventures of modern times and offered an exceptional contribution to the progress of humanity. The radioactivity science she founded, together with her husband Pierre Curie, is the basis of numerous applications in many fields of medicine and energy.

Her discoveries have benefited countless numbers of people whose cancers could be treated thanks to radiotherapy. At the end of World War I during which her admirable action in military hospitals allowed many lives to be saved, this woman of science and courage founded the Radium Institute in Paris. Later she also supported the founding of the Radium Institute in Warsaw. She was the inspiration and mentor of many researchers trained in these institutes.