Marie Curie on new UN definitive


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On 7 November, the UN Postal Administration issued a CHF2.30 defintive stamp to honour Marie Curie. The stamp is part of a definitive stamp series illustrated by renowned engraver Martin Mörck from Norway.

Best known for her pioneering research in radioactivity and her discovery of two elements, polonium and radium, Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two Nobel Prizes and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.

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Born Marya Skłodowska in Warsaw, Poland, on 7 November 1867, she overcame many obstacles in her early life to pursue her scientific career. In 1891, she went to Paris to study physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne. It was there that she met Pierre Curie, professor at the School of Physics, where they worked together studying radioactivity and researching. They married in 1895.

See our guide to Marie Curie on Stamps

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In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics, jointly with Henri Becquerel, for their combined, though separate, work on radioactivity, a term Curie coined herself. In the same year, Marie passed her doctorate thesis in physics. After her husband’s death in 1906, she took over his professorship at the Sorbonne, becoming the institution’s first female professor.

In 1911, Marie Curie earned a second Nobel Prize (along with her husband), in chemistry, for her discovery of two new elements – polonium (named after her homeland) and radium.

Marie Curie’s research laid the foundation for modern nuclear science, from X-rays to radiotherapy for treating cancer. She stood out not only for her talent and dedication, but also for inspiring woman and girls in science.

The simple quote on the right-hand side of the stamp, which is in French, reads ‘Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.’