The Curies

26 Mar, 2015 540 Chemistry

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the scientific achievements of the Curie family. In 1903 Marie and Pierre Curie shared a Nobel Prize in Physics with Henri Becquerel for their work on radioactivity, a term which Marie coined. Marie went on to win a Nobel in Chemistry eight years later; remarkably, her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie would later share a Nobel with her husband Frederic Joliot-Curie for their discovery that it was possible to create radioactive materials in the laboratory. The work of the Curies added immensely to our knowledge of fundamental physics and paved the way for modern treatments for cancer and other illnesses.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Patricia Fara 17 episodes
    Senior Tutor of Clare College, University of Cambridge
  • Robert Fox No other episodes
    Emeritus Professor of the History of Science at the University of Oxford
  • Steven T Bramwell No other episodes
    Professor of Physics and former Professor of Chemistry at University College London

Reading list

  • The Curies: A Biography of the Most Controversial Family in Science
    Denis Brian (John Wiley & Sons, 2005) Google Books →
  • Madame Curie
    Eve Curie (trans. Vincent Sheean) (First published 1938; Style Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • Pierre Curie
    Marie Curie (First published 1923; Dover Publications, 2012) Google Books →
  • Curie (Life & Times)
    Sarah Dry (Haus Publishing, 2003) Google Books →
  • Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family
    Shelley Emling (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) Google Books →
  • Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie
    Barbara Goldsmith (W. W. Norton, 2005) Google Books →
  • Frederic Joliot-Curie: A Biography
    Maurice Goldsmith (Lawrence and Wishart, 1976) Google Books →
  • Marie Curie: A Life
    Susan Quinn (Heinemann, 1995) Google Books →
  • Marie Curie
    Robert William Reid (Collins, 1974) Google Books →
  • Marie & Pierre Curie
    John Senior (Sutton Publishing, 1998) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b05n1dmt

Episode page:

Auto-category: 540 (Chemistry and allied sciences)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1903, thanks to her work on radioactivity, Marie Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, sharing it with her husband Pierre and with Henry Becquerel.