May 19, 2021
Brilliant chemist and physicist Marie Curie, the first female to earn a Nobel Prize and the first person to be honored twice by the Nobel Committee, opened up a whole new area of study with her discoveries and application of radiation. A Polish native working in France, Curie understood that her work could have the potential to help mankind. In this newly colorized photo dating to the end of World War I, she and her daughter Irene are instructing a group of American soldiers who were lingering in France while awaiting transport back home to the United States.
Marie Curie’s work in radiology not only helped to unlock the secret working of atoms, but it ushered in a whole new field of medicine and popularized the study of radiology. As this colorized photograph from 1919 shows, Curie’s work extended to the war effort, helping soldiers serving in World War I. She even devoted an extra year after the war ended to instruct others, including the group of American soldiers seen here, about radiology.
The Medical Impact of Marie Curie’s Discoveries
Marie Curie applied her studies of radium and X-rays to the field of medicine. Through a series of experiments, she proved that radium could be used to treat various forms of cancer, including leukemia, although it was not without a degree of risks. Radiation is still used to treat cancer patients today. Curie did not devote her studies to X-rays, nor did she discover that X-rays could be used to peer into the human body. She did, however, help to bring portable X-ray machines into war. They were called Little Curies.