PIERRE CURIE Biography - Famous Scientists


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Pierre Curie (1859 - 1906)                                                               
Pierre Curie was born in Paris on May 15, 1869. He was educated at home by his           
father, a general medical practitioner. He showed a strong aptitude for                 
mathematics and geometry even in his early teens. In 1880, Pierre and his older         
brother Jacques demonstrated that an electric potential was generated when               
crystals were compressed, and the next year they demonstrated the reverse effect:       
that crystals could be made to deform when subject to an electric field. Almost         
all digital electronic circuits now rely on this phenomenon, known as                   
piezoelectric effects, in the form of crystal oscillators.                               
By age 18, Curie had completed the equivalent of a higher degree. Due to lack of         
money, he did not immediately pursue his doctorate, but worked as a laboratory           
instructor. Eventually, he entered the Faculty of Sciences at the Sorbonne. He           
gained his Licenciateship in Physics in 1978 and continued as a demonstrator in         
the physics laboratory until 1882, when he was placed in charge of all practical         
work in the Physics and Industrial Chemistry Schools. In 1895, he obtained his           
Doctor of Science degree and was appointed Professor of Physics. In 1900, he was         
promoted to Professor in the Faculty of Sciences, and in 1904 he became Titular         
Curie later studied magnetism, showing that the magnetic properties of a given           
substance of a given substance change at a certain temperature; that temperature         
is now known as the Curie point. To assist in his experiments, he constructed           
several delicate pieces of apparatus including balances, electrometers,                 
piezoelectric crystals.                                                                 
Curie's studies of radioactive substances were made together with his wife Marie,       
also a professor at the Sorbonne, whom he married in 1895. They announced the           
discovery of radium and polonium by fractionation of pitchblende in 1898 and             
later did much to elucidate the properties of radium and its transformation             
products. Their work in this era formed the basis for much of the subsequent             
research in nuclear physics and chemistry. Together, they were awarded half of           
the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903 on account of their study into the                   
spontaneous radiation discovered by Becquerel, who was awarded the other half of         
the prize. Along with his wife, Curie was awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal           
Society of London in 1903, and in 1905 he was elected to the Academy of Sciences.       
Curie died on April 19, 1906, as a result of a carriage accident in a rainstorm         
while crossing the rue Dauphine in Paris. Both Pierre and Marie were enshrined           
in the crypt of the Pantheon in Paris in 1995. Their daughter Irene Joliot-Curie         
and their son-in-law Frederic Joliot-Curie were also physicists involved in the         
study of radioactivity.                                                                 
The curie is a unit of radioactivity originally named in honor of Pierre Curie           
by the Radiology Congress in 1910, after Curie's death.