125. MARIE CURIE: Life is not easy
This is the second comic featuring Rising Phoenix. You can read her origin story here.
Marie Curie (1867-1934) was a Polish scientist (she later became a French citizen) who did pioneering research on radioactivity, discovered two elements (polonium and radium), won two Nobel prizes (the only woman to win in two separate fields – physics and chemistry) and is an icon of the scientific world.
Curie’s achievements are even more impressive considering the amount of discrimination she faced throughout her career for being a woman. She was forced to do her PhD in France because her preferred university in Krakow did not admit women. In 1903, Marie and her husband Pierre were invited to the Royal Institution in London to give a speech on radioactivity, but Marie was not allowed to speak. Before receiving her first Nobel prize, the committee in Sweden was originally only going to nominate Pierre (and fellow winner Henri Becquerel) because they figured it must have been Pierre who did all the work, not his lowly wife. In fact, it was Marie who originally dedicated her research to radioactivity and Pierre who decided to join her when he realised how important the work was.
Pierre tragically died in a car accident in 1906 and Marie eventually perished in 1934 from anaemia, due to years of radiation exposure.
- Marie Curie has become the most famous female scientist in history. Here’s an XKCD comic that mentions a few others.
- Thankfully the years of radiation exposure didn’t turn the Curies into giant, Godzilla-like monsters.
- Comic book history factoid: The panel of Rising Phoenix walking away from the garbage can with her costume in the trash is inspired/appropriated/stolen from this iconic splash page in Amazing Spider-Man #50, drawn by John Romita.