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The youngest of five children, the famous physicist was born Manya Skiodowska in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867. In 1891, she changed her name to its French counterpart, “Marie,” and began studies at the Sorbonne. Subsisting on little money, Marie nevertheless distinguished herself, earning degrees in physical science and mathematics.
In 1897 Marie’s research led to her discovery of the element polonium, which she named for Poland, her native land. Soon after, she discovered radium. Joined by husband Pierre in her research, Marie went on to discover the element thorium. In 1903, she received her doctorate from the Sorbonne. And in the same year she, Pierre and Henri Bequerel shared a Nobel Prize for discoveries relating to radioactivity. She won a second Nobel Prize on her own for isolating radium in its pure form.
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