She discovered the missing part at the heart of the matter, but unfortunately she did not get the credit. He continued to advance in the contribution of his illustrious scientist by recreating a key natural phenomenon in the laboratory, thus accomplishing the long human quest to transform substances and lay the foundation for manipulating the immense energy of the atom for purposes beneficial and destructive.
But our modern and successful alchemist, Irene Joliot-Curie, whose 120th birthday is Tuesday (Sept. 12), was not an ordinary person, no other woman or man can match her scientific pedigree.
There are couples or parents who have won the Nobel Prize, but it is the only one, whose parents, Pierre and Marie Curie, were winners (her mother twice, in different disciplines) before winning it herself with her husband Frédéric – who was initially his pupil.
The Joliot Curies had the misfortune not to have won the Nobel twice before, since the pair had found the neutron test, the component missing atomic nuclei, as well as the positron, counterpart of the electron, demonstrating the existence of anti-importation. However, they did not recognize the importance of their results.
However, almost accidents have led them to discover artificial radioactivity. Although it is known that a core could be divided into stable parts by being bombarded with a sufficiently powerful particle, no one until Joliot-Curies has discovered that “under certain circumstances an unstable element could be created in the nuclear disintegration process “and the forces forced to release their energy in the form of radioactive decay (according to Diana Preston in” Before the Fall: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima “).
This earned them the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 and led to studies of heavy metal fission with all their implications for human health and power generation, as well as for a range of destructive weapons.
The eldest daughter of the famous Marie and Pierre Curie, Irene was born in Paris on September 12, 1897 and showed a precocious scientific aptitude. At the age of 10, she was placed in “The Cooperative”, in which Ms. Curie joined with some of the most distinguished academics in France to teach her children a program of sciences and humanities.
After two years, he returned to the traditional school, but this was interrupted by the First World War. During the conflict, she helped her mother manage her mobile field hospitals – with primitive x-ray equipment that helped the doctors locate shrapnel in the wounded soldiers. However, this has led to the mother and daughter suffering from high doses of exposure to radiation. (This, with their literally “practical” approach to radioactive materials, would eventually cause their death).
After the war, she returned to Paris to study at the Radium Institute, set up by her parents and completed her Ph.D. in 1925. She became the nearest collaborator of the fragile mother prematurely and a model of the unconscious,.
“In her twenties, Irene was tall and sturdy, with a direct, penetrating, sometimes disconcerting look, Einstein thought she had the characteristics of a grenadier, other contemporaries remembered her as sometimes haughty and conscious of her status as a daughter Marie Curie and formerly “very rude.” She paid little attention to appearances or convention, merrily walking her skirts to stir her petticoat for a handkerchief to blow her nose, “writes Preston.
In 1924, Irene was asked to teach laboratory techniques to Frédéric, a young chemical engineer, and married him in 1926. In treating their surnames, they also combined their research efforts into atomic nuclei. Missing in the neutron and positron, they nevertheless found a place in the pantheon of science with the discovery of artificial radioactivity in 1934.
But Irene, despite her lack of grace, was not completely foreign to the world. She and her husband were aware of the dangers of fascism and spoke out against it, while she also sought to promote science, being appointed under Secretary of State for Scientific Research in 1936.
However, the long exposure to radioactive substances finally reached him. In contact with tuberculosis, he spent most of the Second World War convalescing in Switzerland. Returning to his political and scientific career after the war, he was diagnosed with leukemia, which he succumbed in 1956.