April 20, 1902 – Curies isolate radium

April 20, 1902 – Curies isolate radium

On this day, Marie and Pierre Curie successfully isolate the radioactive substance radium from the mineral pinchblende in their laboratory in Paris. The Curies discovered radium in 1898, along with another element that Marie named polonium, in honor of her native Poland. For their groundbreaking work on radioactivity, the Curies were awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1906, Pierre Curie died, but Marie continued her work, isolating pure radium in 1910, which earned her a second Nobel, the 1911 prize in chemistry. Marie Sklodowska Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, had become the first person to win it twice. Radium was later used to treat cancer and was important in the development of nuclear physics.