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Who Inspires Us? ...Marie Curie, Physicist and Chemist


31 Oct 2023 | Alex Avery

Throughout 2023 we’re shining a light on some of those who inspire us throughout history and from around the world. Pioneers in science, technology, music, sport and beyond!

These incredible people can be found highlighted on our website home page too, but in these articles, we take a closer look at their stories and why we’re celebrating them.


In November we celebrate Marie Curie. 


Marie was born “Maria Salomea Skłodowska” on November 7th, 1867, in Warsaw, Poland, which at the time was a part of the Russian Empire. She was the fifth (and youngest) child in her family, who lost their fortunes following patriotic involvements in Poland’s independence uprisings of the time. As a result, Maria had a difficult childhood and was forced to use the clandestine Flying University (which would educate women in Warsaw, where the Russian Empire would not).

She left Poland for France in 1891, enrolling in the University of Paris to study physics, chemistry, and mathematics, receiving her physics degree two years later. Soon after this she met Pierre Curie, a fellow scientist, who she went on to marry in 1895. In the same year, Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays and in 1896, Henri Becquerel discovered that uranium salts emitted a similar ray pattern. Marie Curie decided to investigate these as a field of research for a thesis.

In 1898 she announced the existence of two new elements; Polonium (after Marie’s native Poland) and Radium (from the Latin word for “ray”) and coined the word for “radioactivity”! She was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics (making her the first female recipient ever) in 1903, alongside her husband and Henri Becquerel. Unfortunately, her husband was killed in 1906 in a road accident, but this inspired Marie to create a world-class laboratory in tribute. She became the University of Paris’s first female professor and created the Radium Institute for radioactivity research. She was awarded a second Nobel Prize (in Chemistry) in 1911, making her the first person to win two!

World War I erupted in 1914 and Marie saw the need for mobile radiological units to help battlefield injury diagnosis. She developed petites Curies or “Little Curies” which went on to treat over one million wounded! In 1922 she became a fellow of the French Academy of Medicine, with her Radium Institute producing four more Nobel Prize winners including her daughter and son-in-law. Marie passed away at the age of 66 from aplastic anemia, believed to have been caused by her exposure to radiation (its dangers were not fully understood in her lifetime).

Marie Curie is cemented as one of histories most celebrated scientists, though she is famed for refusing awards (Albert Einstein once remarked that she “could not be corrupted by fame”). Her legacy lives on however, with units of radioactivity (Curie (CI)), atomic number 96 (Curium (Cm)) and radioactive minerals (Curite, Sklodowskite and Cuprosklodowskite) as well as a Paris metro station, Polish nuclear reactor and an asteroid named after her!


“The result of the Curies’ work was epoch-making.“ 
– Cornell University professor L. Pearce Williams.  


What Marie Curie means to us.

Marie was a woman of “firsts” – the first female recipient of a Nobel prize, first to receive two, and then the first female professor at the University of Paris, to say nothing of the discoveries that won her these massive accolades!

Here at gravity9 we may not discover any new elements but being “first” is what we’re all about! Let’s read some quotes from Marie and see where we resonate…


“Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.”


As it is in life, so it is in technology. We understand that big digital changes can be a daunting prospect for businesses big and small, but our track record in both consulting on and implementing digital transformation can help take the fear away.


“I am one of those who think like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.”


For us, this plays well into the theme of “fear” in the previous quote. We like to experiment, ideate, and “think outside the box” (as much as we hate that term!). New approaches may not always work “first time”, which Marie found out herself. But perseverance and an open mind led her to great discoveries, and in our own way we’ve found the same approach rings true in what we do also!


“Have no fear of perfection; you’ll never reach it.”


Of course we want to do the best work that we can, ensuring the clients we work with are happy every time. But for us, this quote isn’t about meeting expectations so much as to never stop striving for more. We want to keep pushing ourselves, all the time, in everything that we do. It’s through that dedication that we’ll continue to grow and improve.


“I am among those who think that science has great beauty” – Marie Curie.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, we’re right there with Maria on this. After all, part of our ethos is how we bring better digital products together with the fusion of art and science.

Whether our user experience team are ideating a new user journey, or our product build teams are enabling evolutionary architecture, we strive to ensure that what we do is as beautiful as it is functional.