external image Marie_Curie_c1920.jpgHistorical Character

Name: Marie Curie

Age: 53

Gender: Female

Race/Ethnicity: Polish

Profession: Physicist/Chemist

Location: Institut du Radium in Paris, France

Personal Traits. Skills, Abilities and Characteristics: Intelligence, Curiosity, Competence

Biography (ca. 1921):

Born in 1867, Marie Curie was an esteemed scientist who did some of the earliest true science with radioactive elements, specifically radium.

In the year 1909, Marie Curie became the director of the Institut du Radium, a division of the University of Paris. Her husband, Pierre Curie – who had narrowly avoided being killed in a traffic accident three years before – began working at the Institute alongside her. Unfortunately, after an ambitious experiment in the Pasteur Laboratory subsection went horribly awry, Pierre met his death in 1910 at the mercy of the first (and, thankfully, a rather small) atomic explosion. Marie took her mind off her grief by continuing to look into what Pierre had been working on, this time taking more precautions. By 1913, her discoveries had paved the way for the creation of the blueprint of the first nuclear reactor – and the first atomic bomb. Despite Curie’s philosophy of freely sharing discoveries, she coveted these diagrams, afraid that their introduction into the world would not go over so smoothly. Her efforts to conceal the knowledge eventually failed, after much curiosity and pestering forced her to reveal the secret diagrams in early 1919 – thankfully, after the global conflict had subsided.

In a last-ditch effort to protect the world from her discovery, Curie pursued every possible patent and copyright she could on the diagrams, but they nevertheless made their way into mainstream academia by 1920. It didn't take long for knowledge of the diagrams, and their potential, to cross the Atlantic, and with Rochester's interest in technological innovation, Curie's diagrams became a hot topic at RAMI and the University of Rochester. Students found themselves frustrated with Curie's harsh protections, as they wanted to experiment with the potential of nuclear-steam engines themselves - Curie's energy solution would definitely be helpful in solving Rochester's coal shortage crisis, if it were implemented properly. Some students, however, took a much less healthy interest in the other diagram - and a much less humanitarian interest in its destructive potential.