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published by the American Institute of Physics
This web site is an online exhibit about Marie Curie, the discoverer of the radioactive elements polonium and radium and the first person to win two Nobel prizes.  The exhibit provides an interactive account of Marie Curie's life, complete with photographs, maps, and links to more information. This is part of the Center for the History of Physics of the American Institute for Physics.
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= Radioactivity
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© 2000 American Institute of Physics and Naomi Pasachoff
Curie, polonium, radioactive, radioactivity, radium
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created December 7, 2006 by Ann Deml
Record Updated:
August 10, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
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Author: Mary Salit
Posted: October 21, 2012 at 11:48AM
Source: The Physics Front collection

This exhibit does not dumb down the material at all. Instead it includes a lot of history of pre- World War II Poland, excerpts from Curie's writing in her own voice, photographs, and detailed context for all of the information. Excellent. A better experience than many science museums I've been too, with more information.

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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

1. The Nature of Science

1A. The Scientific Worldview
  • 9-12: 1A/H3bc. In science, the testing, revising, and occasional discarding of theories, new and old, never ends. This ongoing process leads to a better understanding of how things work in the world but not to absolute truth.
1B. Scientific Inquiry
  • 9-12: 1B/H8. Scientists' nationality, sex, ethnic origin, age, political convictions, and so on may incline them to look for or emphasize one or another kind of evidence or interpretation.
1C. The Scientific Enterprise
  • 6-8: 1C/M7. Accurate record-keeping, openness, and replication are essential for maintaining an investigator's credibility with other scientists and society.
  • 6-8: 1C/M8. Scientists' personal interests and viewpoints can influence the questions they investigate.
  • 9-12: 1C/H6ab. Scientists can bring information, insights, and analytical skills to bear on matters of public concern. Acting in their areas of expertise, scientists can help people understand the likely causes of events and estimate their possible effects.

3. The Nature of Technology

3C. Issues in Technology
  • 6-8: 3C/M9. In all technologies, there are always trade-offs to be made.
  • 9-12: 3C/H5. Human inventiveness has brought new risks as well as improvements to human existence.
  • 9-12: 3C/H6. The human ability to influence the course of history comes from its capacity for generating knowledge and developing new technologies—and for communicating ideas to others.

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 6-8: 4D/M5. Chemical elements are those substances that do not break down during normal laboratory reactions involving such treatments as heating, exposure to electric current, or reaction with acids. All substances from living and nonliving things can be broken down to a set of about 100 elements, but since most elements tend to combine with others, few elements are found in their pure form.
  • 9-12: 4D/H3. Although neutrons have little effect on how an atom interacts with other atoms, the number of neutrons does affect the mass and stability of the nucleus. Isotopes of the same element have the same number of protons (and therefore of electrons) but differ in the number of neutrons.
  • 9-12: 4D/H4. The nucleus of radioactive isotopes is unstable and spontaneously decays, emitting particles and/or wavelike radiation. It cannot be predicted exactly when, if ever, an unstable nucleus will decay, but a large group of identical nuclei decay at a predictable rate. This predictability of decay rate allows radioactivity to be used for estimating the age of materials that contain radioactive substances.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 9-12: 4E/H6. Energy is released whenever the nuclei of very heavy atoms, such as uranium or plutonium, split into middleweight ones, or when very light nuclei, such as those of hydrogen and helium, combine into heavier ones. For a given quantity of a substance, the energy released in a nuclear reaction is very much greater than the energy given off in a chemical reaction.

8. The Designed World

8C. Energy Sources and Use
  • 9-12: 8C/H3. Nuclear reactions release energy without the combustion products of burning fuels, but the radioactivity of fuels and their by-products poses other risks.

10. Historical Perspectives

10G. Splitting the Atom
  • 9-12: 10G/H1b. In their laboratory in France, Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre Curie, isolated two new elements that caused most of the radioactivity of the uranium mineral. They named one radium because it gave off powerful, invisible rays, and the other polonium in honor of Madame Curie's country of birth, Poland.
  • 9-12: 10G/H4b. Nuclear weapons and energy remain matters of public concern and controversy.
  • 9-12: 10G/H5. Radioactivity has many uses other than generating energy, including in medicine, industry, and scientific research in many different fields.

12. Habits of Mind

12A. Values and Attitudes
  • 9-12: 12A/H5. Curiosity motivates scientists to ask questions about the world around them and seek answers to those questions. Being open to new ideas motivates scientists to consider ideas that they had not previously considered. Skepticism motivates scientists to question and test their own ideas and those that others propose.

Common Core State Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6—12

Craft and Structure (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.9 Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible.
Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity (6-12)
  • RST.11-12.10 By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11—CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(American Institute of Physics, College Park, 2000), WWW Document, (
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity (American Institute of Physics, College Park, 2000), <>.
APA Format
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. (2000). Retrieved July 21, 2024, from American Institute of Physics:
Chicago Format
American Institute of Physics. Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. College Park: American Institute of Physics, 2000. (accessed 21 July 2024).
MLA Format
Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity. College Park: American Institute of Physics, 2000. 21 July 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity}, Publisher = {American Institute of Physics}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {21 July 2024}, Year = {2000} }
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%T Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity %D 2000 %I American Institute of Physics %C College Park %U %O text/html

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%0 Electronic Source %D 2000 %T Marie Curie and the Science of Radioactivity %I American Institute of Physics %V 2024 %N 21 July 2024 %9 text/html %U

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