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posted Jun 11, 2015, 5:35 PM by Upali Salpadoru   [ updated Dec 1, 2015, 10:55 AM ]

Curies- A Radiant family.


Helen Langevin Joliot Curie. 1927-

  Helen is an adviser to the French Government.




Son in Law



Frederick Joliot


12 September 1897

When mum was preparing for her Doctorate.

               19 March1900





Father:- Pierre Curie

Mother:- Marie Curie.

Father-Henri Joliot  A merchant.

Mother- Emile Roderer.


Sister:-  Eve  7 yrs. Younger who became a distinguished writer. Her husband won a Noble Prize on behalf of UNICEF.



Her abilities were far superior to that of other students of her age group.

As a boarding student at the Lycée Lakanal he was an outstanding sportsman.


Taught in a private class with nine other children at Sorbonne by her mother, Paul Langevin, and Jean Perrin.

1907 Age. 10yrs.

Marie whenever she had the time gave math puzzles to Irene which she often solved with much ease. She also had the good fortune of listening to adult discussions on contemporary science.

She blossomed into a child prodigy.

1912 Age 15Yrs.

She was sent to a High school in Paris.

1925 Age 28Yrs.

She obtained her Doctorate for studies of the alpha rays of polonium (the first of the two elements her mother had discovered 27 years earlier).

Later he joined the Lavoisier municipal school in order to prepare for the entrance competition at the École de Physique et de Chimie Industrielle,

Obtained a first class degree in Engineering from Ecole de Physique.

Irene trained him in special techniques required for radioactive research.


Biography 1

She was one of the most un assuming girls in Paris that did not care about fashions. She played tennis and did skiing.

1914 Age 17yrs.

When the war commenced her mother Marie sent her and the sister to Brittany.

1934 Age 37Yrs

Her mother died due to radiation poisoning

1942  Age 45Yrs.

Irène supported the movement of equal rights for women sponsored by the Communist party. 

1944 Age 47Yrs.

Irene took their children to Switzerland for safety...

1942  Age 45Yrs.

Fred joined the French Communist party

1944 Age 47Yrs.

Fred risked his life manufacturing explosives and radio equipment for the Resistance. Joliot had expressed his views as, “Progressive scientists shall not give a jot of their science to make war………., sustained by our conviction that in so doing we serve France and all of humanity.” 


On the advancement of Germans he sent Research documents to England.

Biography 2

1926 Age 29Yrs.

Frederic Joliot married Irene Curie out of church in a civil ceremony.

Irene had to manage all expenses with her salary as Fred was preparing for his doctorate.  Once he even thought of quitting research altogether and get into a lucrative job. Irene would not even hear of it.

Eleven months later, their daughter Helene was born; (she would also become a noted physicist).

1927 Age 30Yrs.

Things became worse as Helene was born they could just make ends meet as Irene did not spend for fashions and hi-fi social activities unlike her sister Eve.

1932 Age 35Yrs.

Their second child Pierre was born. (He ended up as a biologist).

The parents worked hard on their research while the children were at school and they spent their vacations in their holiday home L’Arcoust. This was essential as Irene; in-spite of energetic output was suffering from tuberculosis, probably due to the weakening of her resistance due to various exposures.

This year they just missed two crucial catches. The sub atomic particle neutron came to them but missed it. It went over to James Chadwick .The second was the positron which was caught by C. D. Anderson.

1937 Age 40Yrs..

Just as she attacked the minute nuclei of atoms, she also resisted the major movement of Fascism in Europe. During World War II, Irene and Fred stopped working on nuclear physics as the enemies would have misused their discoveries and started working only on medical applications of radio isotopes.



They are the pioneers in creating artificial radioactivity.

1934 Age 37Yrs

Irene Joliot Curie obtained Phosphorous from Aluminum   and changed Magnesium to Silicon.

Irene achieved this amazing feat, ‘transmutation’ of elements,, at the Curie Radium Institute in Paris working with her husband Frederick Joliot. All research papers they signed as Joliot-Curie.

The Phosphorous produced in this nuclear reaction, was not the same as the natural element. This Phosphorous, formed from Aluminum were, “minute generators of radiation endowed with an enormous concentration of energy”; so this was the first instance a ‘radioactive isotope’ had been made by man. Radioactive isotopes are now in wide use in medicine and industry just as her mother who always claimed as, “Pierre and I …….”  Irene also signed all her research papers as Joliot-Curie...


She helped her mother to develop of X’ ray therapy while getting a fair dose of radiation.

 1939, Age 39Yrs

Frédéric demonstrated, with Antoine Lacassagne, the use of radioactive iodine as a tracer in the thyroid gland.

1943  Age 43Yrs.

He became a member of the Académie de Médecine.

He discovered and worked on the Atomic chain reactions.

He supervised the building of the first cyclotron in Western Europe.


1936  Age 39Yrs.

Curie was appointed Undersecretary of State for Scientific Research. From 1946 to 1951, Curie served as a member of the French Atomic Energy Commission with her husband and assisted in establishing France's first atomic pile. 

1937 Age 40Yrs.

Irene became the Professor in the Faculty of Science in Paris.

Professor Langevin, his physics Professor introduced him to ‘Curie Radium Institute’  and he became an assistant to Marie Curie.

1937 Age 37Yrs.

Professor at “Colllege de France”.

In addition to earlier post he accepted the chair at Sorbonne for Nuclear Physics which was held earlier by his wife.


1914 Age 17yrs.

She had to leave the University to help her mother with the fleet of X’ray units to treat the wounded soldiers. She received a Military Medal for these services.

1918  Age 21Yrs.

Irene joined the Curie Radium Institute as her mother’s assistant. She conducted research on radiation. The fame and the achievement of her parents neither discouraged nor intimidated her....Her sincere love of science, inspired in her only one ambition: to work forever in that laboratory which she had seen grow up.”--Eve Curie on her sister Irène.

1939 Age 42Yrs

Irène devoted her scientific experience and her abilities as an administrator to the acquisition of raw materials, the prospecting for uranium and the construction of detection installations.

1946 Age 49Yrs.

After the war,  Irene became the Director of the Institute of Radium and the Commissioner of Atomic energy. She was made a member of the Legion of Honour but was denied a seat in the French Academy of Sciences due to her gender.

1950 Age 53Yrs.

Irène was deprived of her position as commissioner in the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique

1951 Age 54Yrs.

She was excused of her services at the Atomic Energy Commission  because of her association with the French Communist party,

1946 Age 49Yrs.

Fred was appointed director of the National Center for Scientific Research and was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. Soon he became the head of the French Atomic Energy Commission.

1945 Age 25Yrs.

General de Gaulle authorized Frédéric and the minister of armaments to create the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique to ensure for France the applications of the discoveries made

1948 Age 48Yrs.

 ZOE (zéro, oxyde d’uranium, eau lourde), the first French nuclear reactor, which, though only moderately powerful, marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon monopoly.

1950 Age 50Yrs.

Prime Minister Georges Bidault removed him without explanation from his position as high commissioner,

1956  Age 59Yrs.

Fred accepted Irene’s chair at Sorbonne.

He devoted the last years of his life to the creation of a centre for nuclear physics at Orsay,


1935  Age Irene=  38, Fred= 35

They received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the synthesis of new radioactive elements.


1956  Age 59Yrs.

Irene’s health deteriorated with time. Even several surgeries performed could not save her. At the age of 59 she died of leukemia at the Curie Hospital.

iven a state funerals

1965 Age 65Yrs.

Frederick Joliot succumbed to a liver disease probably due to radiation. Both Joliot-Curies were given state funerals

Given a state funeral.


1927 Age. Irene= 30,  Fred= 27.

Hélène, was born who would also become a noted physicist,. She did research on Radioactivity. and became the Professor of Nuclear Physics at the University of Paris.  

She married Paul Langevin’s grandson,  Michael a nuclear physicist engaged in science research..

1932 Age. Irene= 35, Fred =32.

Their second child Pierre was born. (He ended up as a biologist).


Marie Curie with Irene and Eve.


Pierre Curie

Marie Sklodowska.


15-5-1859 Paris, France.

7-11-1867 Warsaw, Poland.






5 siblings. Sister- Bronya.


Eugène Curie  a physician, & Sophie-Claire Curie 

Bronislawa and Vladislav Sklodowski. 

Physics teacher in Poland.


He had a happy childhood.

First educated by father.

Showed early signs of high intelligence.

Lived pressurised by the Czarist Russian rule in Poland.

Her elder sister died when she was 8.

Mother died when she was 10.


1975  Age 16

Graduated in Mathematics.

1878 Age 19

Masters in Physics

1895 Age 36Yrs.

Obtained his Doctor of Science degree.


1883  Age 16Yrs.

Graduated from Gymnasium winning a gold medal.

Floating University in Poland. ( Illegal as teaching in Polish was banned)

1891  Age 24Yrs.

Studied at the secret Floating University.

She joined Sorbonne.

Managed her expenses with an allowance from Bronya. Burning midnight oil, in freezing cold due to poor heating, often forgetting her food, she crammed up the lecture notes.

1893 Age 26Yrs.

Graduated at the top of her batch in physics getting a scholarship.

1894. Age 26Yrs.

earned a second degree in



 Marie was introduced to Pierre



In youth his only interest was Magnetissm on which he performed research with his brother.


A confirmed atheist and a socialist.





1895 Age 36Yrs.

Maria first refused him as she wanted to be a teacher in Poland, but agreed to marry him later.

1902 Age 43Yrs.

He gave up his own research and joined his wife to discover the hihgly reactive element which could be present in minute quanities.

1937  Age 10Yrs.

Her mother died of Tuberculosis.

1885 Age 18Yrs.

The two sisters devised a plan for their education Marie would work as a governess and send money for her elder sister to study medicine in France.  Once Bronya had completed the course she would spend for her younger sister.


She fell in love with her employer’s son but his parents objected as she was poor. The youth ended up as a professor in mathematics.



Bronya invited her to Paris.

She rented a garret closr to the university,


1895 Pierre=36Yrs. Marie =26Yrs

They were married in Seine neither wanted a religious service. Marie wore her dark blue outfit instead of a bridal grown, They enjoyed the ‘Honeymoon’ on  push cycles.

They shared two pastimes: long bicycle trips, and journeys abroad, which brought them even closer. In Pierre, Marie had found a new love, a partner, and a scientific collaborator on whom she could depend.


1882 Age 23 Yrs.

Became the  Professor of Physics.

He was in charge of all practical work in the Physics and Industrial Chemistry Schools.

1900  Age 41Yrs.

He was promoted to Professor in the Faculty of Sciences in Sorbonne.

Started tutoring with her father.

Worked as a governess.





Discovered Pietzoelectricity. With his brother.

Invented a very sensitive instrument, Curie Scale.


demonstrated that crystals could be made to deform when subject to an electric field. (crystal oscillators. Use this principle.)

Discovered the effect of temperature on paramagnetism which is now known as Curie's law

1904  Age 45Yrs.

In London Pierre had suggested how Radium could be used to cure cancer. 

1914  Age 47Yrs.

During the war she laboriously worked to equip mobile X- ray units. She trained young women to use X rays to detect metal splinters in the flesh. Irene 19 was also among them. All of them got paid by massive doses of radiation


They discovered Polonium and Radium.

Coined the term “Radiation



They shared the Nobel Prize with Henry Becquerel for physics.


Marie curie got the second Nobel prize for chemistry

1918  Age 51Yrs.

After the war Curie Radioactive Institute was opened without much help from the government



Irene and


1906  Age 45Yrs.

Died in a street accident in Paris 



Died of Radium poisoning.


After Death


A unit to measure Radioactivity was named as ‘Curie’ which is equivalent to 3.7 × 1010 nuclear decays per second.


The remains of Pierre and Marie were enshrined at the Panthéon in Paris.