Pioneer in radioactivity now on United Nations stamp

The United Nations Postal Administration has issued a stamp to honour Marie Curie, best known for her pioneering research in radioactivity and her discovery of two elements, polonium and radium.

Released on Nov. 7, 2023, the CHF 2,30 (about $3.52 Cdn.) definitive stamp series illustrated by Martin Mörck (Norway) includes a quote on the stamp from Curie, which is in French and translated in English reads: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood”.

Currie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win a Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two scientific fields.

Born Marya Skłodowska in Warsaw, Poland on Nov. 7, 1867, she was the youngest of five children. Despite her family’s poverty and limited access to scientific education, combined with the fact that she was a woman, Currie overcame many obstacles to pursue her passion and her scientific career.

In 1891, she went to Paris to study physics and mathematics at the Sorbonne. There she met Pierre Curie, a professor at the School of Physics, where they worked together studying radioactivity and researching. They were married in 1895. In 1903, Marie and Pierre Curie were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, jointly with Henri Becquerel, for their combined, though separate work on radioactivity, a term Curie coined herself. In the same year, Curie passed her doctorate thesis in Physics. After her husband died in 1906, she took over his professorship at Sorbonne, becoming the institution’s first female professor.

In 1911, Curie earned a second Nobel Prize in chemistry (along with her husband) for discovering two new elements: polonium (named after her homeland) and radium. Curie’s research laid the foundation for modern nuclear science, from X-rays to radiotherapy for treating cancer. She stood out not only for her brilliant talent and dedication but also for inspiring women and girls in science.

Date of Issue: Nov. 7, 2023

Artist: Martin Mörck (Norway)

Designer: Rorie Katz (United Nations)

Denomination: CHF 2,30 (Swiss Franc)

Stamp size: 50 mm x 35 mm

Stamps per sheet: 20

Printer: Royal Joh Enschedé (The Netherlands)

Process: Offset lithography – Duotone

Perforation: 14 x 14 ¼

Quantity: 9,000 sheets (180,000 stamps)

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