A War Hero with Two Nobel Prizes?
The amazing story of Marie Curie and her Petite Curie units in World War 1
The following was written by a young girl (my daughter) who loves to read about women who rule and is from her video on the My Girl Heroes YouTube channel.
Special guest post by Guenevere C.S. (host of My Girl Heroes)
Marie Curie is one of the most amazing scientists ever. Her experiments with radioactivity had a huge impact on science and has helped millions and millions of people. She was the first person ever to win two Nobel Prizes and definitely needs more than one My Girl Heroes video.
Today I’m going to tell you about Marie Curie, the war hero.
My dad keeps making a huge deal about how it’s the 100th anniversary of the World War 1 and we even went to a museum in London where I got to see what it was like.
While I was there, I found out about a few other brave women who were heroes in World War One and they’ll probably get a My Girl Heroes video too.
Today, it’s the awesome Marie.
In 1914, France was attacked by Germany and things weren’t going very well. Thousands of soldiers were dying and medical care was very poor. When everyone saw that the war wasn’t going to end quickly, Marie Curie realized she could help save lives with a form of radiation: X-RAYS!!!!
Marie knew that x-ray machines were common in Paris hospitals but they needed to be near where the soldiers were being wounded and treated.
She had the idea of building portable x-ray picture machines called “radiography units” into vans that could be moved around the battlefield. Marie was an expert in experimenting with radiation, but she didn’t know anything about making x-ray images or human anatomy. So, as a true My Girl Hero, she grabbed some books and taught herself everything she needed to know about radiography and human anatomy. After that, she learned about truck mechanics and generators so she could design and build the portable radiography units into vans that medics could drive to where the battles were happening.
She became the first ever Red Cross Director of Radiology and, with the help of her 17 year old daughter Iréne, they built 20 radiology vans that everyone called “petites Curies” and 200 radiology units for field hospitals.
It must have been very difficult and very dangerous but Marie and Iréne also trained a staff of women to run the machines and over one million soldiers were treated with her portable x-ray units.
She even took her Nobel Prize money and tried to donate it to the war effort but the government refused her donation. So she bought war bonds with it instead.
The French government never thanked her for helping to save so many lives during the war but I will.
Marie, you are a My Girl Hero so many times over and today I want to thank you for inspiring girls everywhere to do great things for others when times are really bad.
We need people like you now more than ever.
Image attributions (inserted by dad):
‘Portable X-ray installation, 1915’. Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) terms and conditions https://wellcomecollection.org/works/bam3wz65
Souscrivez a l’Emprunt de la Liboeration! Abstract/medium: By Simay, artist — Library of CongressCatalog: http://lccn.loc.gov/99613535, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66416459