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Daughter and assistant of Marie Curie: who was Irène Joliot-Curie?

2022-09-25T05:16:06.255Z

Prodigious energy, thirst for knowledge, commitment: Marie Curie's eldest daughter works alongside her mother and follows an equally luminous destiny. Nobel Prize at stake.



Irène was educated by her mother, who won two Nobel Prizes, and her laboratory colleagues.

After high school, studying science seemed obvious to him, but the First World War forced him to abandon his books for practical work.

She assists Marie in a revolutionary medical project: the creation of vans equipped with X-ray equipment.

These vehicles, which will go down in history as the Petites Curies, saved thousands of lives.

From the age of 18, Irène, trained in emergency nursing, supervised alone the installation of an X-ray room in the military hospital of Amiens.

The young woman in a white nurse's dress teaches skeptical old doctors the virtues of this new technology without being impressed.

When peace returned, Irène began a thesis devoted to the alpha rays of polonium, in the continuity of her mother's work.

She then met a new trainer from the Institut Curie, named Frédéric Joliot.

The young man is one of the hopes of his generation.

Irène recognizes in him a man of the caliber of her father, Pierre Curie, and falls in love with him.

In video, the women who entered the Pantheon

Foray into politics

The couple studies artificial radioactivity: the fact of making a material radioactive by modifying its state by ionization.

This discovery earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. Frédéric and Irène became the Joliot-Curies in the international press.

The following year, Irène made a foray into politics.

The coalition left-wing parties won the legislative elections and formed the Popular Front.

Léon Blum, then president of the council, entrusts three secretaries of state to women for the first time, even though they do not yet have the right to vote.

Irène, a feminist like her mother, accepts this mission, but becomes disillusioned after her arrival at the National Assembly.

The radical-socialist Jean Zay, his supervising minister, imposes silence on him in the hemicycle.

After the Second World War, the researcher, upset by the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, engages in the fight against nuclear weapons following the example of her mother's friend, Albert Einstein.

She signed the Stockholm appeal alongside her husband and artists such as Edith Piaf, Pablo Picasso and Yves Montand.

Irene is a six-time candidate for the Academy of Sciences when leukemia, caused by the radioactive elements she has handled all her life, begins to eat away at her.

Despite his Nobel and his commitments, the doors of the illustrious assembly, founded under Louis XIV, remain closed.

She's a woman and we don't like petticoats in this supposedly virile temple of knowledge.

If the Academy shuns her, Irene is nonetheless recognized for her merits by the State and the people.

On March 21, 1956, four days after his death at the age of 58, his national funeral was celebrated in the courtyard of the Sorbonne.

France wanted to pay him a last tribute.

Before seeing her one day pantheonized like her mother?

Virginie Girod has a doctorate in history.

Find her in the podcast

At the heart of history

, from Europe 1 Studio, on your favorite listening platform.

Source: lefigaro

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