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The Genius of Marie Curie: the Woman Who Lit Up the World

The Genius of Marie Curie: the Woman Who Lit Up the World

Fri May 3, 9-10pm, BBC2

By Rachel Aroesti
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Two-times Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie was a ‘fiercely private person’, our gently reverential narrator tells us, in a voice that seems to quaver at the very idea of such nobility. So what better way to honour her than by focusing on the ‘TRAGEDY’ and ‘SCANDAL’ that beset her life, punctuated with scraps of the scientist’s ‘most intimate’ correspondence?

Even if it really is necessary to humanise Curie, putting her scientific discoveries on an equal billing with her private life means a lot of information about her fascinating career (and its huge significance) must be left out. The gaps are filled with stories from Curie’s sometimes sad, but hardly titillating private life. Much more is made of the fact that Marie was Polish in a French world, and a woman in a man’s world (meaning, among other things, that she was castigated for her absent parenting and affair with a married man), than of her transformation of the scientific landscape.

The tale of her triumph over marginalisation might be a worthy one, but it obscures a much more interesting story.
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