Weird wills - Curie's Uranium

Weird wills - Curie's Uranium

Weird wills – Curie’s Uranium

by | Weird Wills

Marie Curie, the ‘mother of modern physics’, was an incredible scientist.  So maybe it was fitting that in her will she gave a hazardous gift of uranium to science.  And her daughter!

Marie Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes and is the only person to win in two different fields (physics and chemistry).  Born in Poland, she moved to Paris to study science when she was 24. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, a name she coined.  Unfortunately it also led to her death.  She died in 1934, aged 66, from radiation exposure induced illness.

On May 20, 1921 Curie, who co-discovered the radium element with her husband in 1898, received from the American people a gift of a gram of radium.  Valued at $100,000, it would be worth $1.25 million today.  Presented with an empty box by President Harding, it was considered too dangerous to be in the White House.  When Marie died, this was the only item of any value that she owned.

This hazardous but valuable gift was left in her will to the University of Paris, with the proviso that her daughter, Irene, should have ‘entire liberty’ to use it for her scientific research.  Element 96 on the periodic table, Curium (Cm), was named in honour of Marie and her husband, Pierre.

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