Two people fall in love over their work. They get married; they win a major award; they have a few children. Then tragedy strikes and he suddenly dies. She takes another lover but he's already married. The whole story is scrutinized under the public eye.
You might be thinking this is another Pitt-Aniston-Jolie triangle or some other troupe. What would you think if I told you the major award they won was a Nobel Prize in Physics?
In her day and age (roughly 1867-1935), Marie Curie was a celebrity. She was the first woman to be a Nobel laureate and the press was captivated by the romance between her and her husband, Pierre. After he died in an accident with a horse-drawn carriage, Marie took a lover, Paul Langevin, and again their story was followed closely but the public. Marie won an additional Nobel Prize. This time in Chemistry.
I learned all this when my cousin, JP, and I went to the New York Public Library exhibit called Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fall Out. It beautifully told the story of their discovery of radium and polonium as well as their love lives.
JP and I decided that the Curies were like the superheroes of their day--trying to help the public with science while their personal lives were under a microscope. Their superpower, however, crumbling bones.
Here's your science lesson: Radioactive elements can be deadly for a few reasons, one of which is because of their isotopic properties. You probably know the word isotope to mean something that is similar. A chemical isotope can be consumed and utilized by the body and used in processes like the formation of cell membranes or calcium for bones. So, these radioactive compounds find their way into your bodies and replace healthy elemental building blocks. More specifically, this is bad because the isotopes give off excess energy.
I'd like to be a scientist celebrity one day like Marie Curie with a scientist husband (and subsequent lover when he dies). In addition, I'd like to have superpower, but hopefully one that won't kill me. Wish me luck!