Aquila Children's Magazine The Electric Issue - Page 21

t all my ‘I am resolved to pu of my strength at the service ce I adopted country, sin for my cannot do anything untry unfortunate native co just now.’ ngevin – Marie Curie to Paul La LITTLE CURIES German bombs began to fall on Paris on 2 September 1914. Germany had declared war on France and The Institute of Radium had to shut temporarily because – like all able-bodied young men – Marie’s researchers had been called to serve in the armed forces. France’s entire stock of radium was comprised of the single gram in Marie’s lab. She took it to Bordeaux, to where the French government had relocated. She travelled by train with the radium secured inside a heavy lead box, and she left it safe inside a deposit box. Her place, she’d decided, was in Paris – there was still work to be done. Marie borrowed cars from rich aquaintances. She convinced automobile body shops to turn the cars into trucks and begged French manufacturers to donate equipment. She learned how to drive and how to change tyres and fix the trucks. She taught other women how to take X-rays too. By late October 1914 there were 20 of these mobile radiology units ready to be fitted out and taken into war zones. Doctors were now able to see bullets, shrapnel and broken bones inside patients’ bodies. The use of these Little Curies – as they became known – saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of wounded servicemen. W hat’s more, they rescued thousands of others from years of suffering and disability. Marie in her laboratory Wherever Marie went she used her influence to raise money for scientific research. ‘One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done,’ she said. She died from a blood disorder in 1943, aged 67, killed by poison from the very substances she had struggled to understand and which now can do so much good in the treatment of diseases like cancer. The word ‘curie’ came into the English language as a unit of measuring radioactivity and the organisation that has taken her name, Marie Curie, provides care and support for people living with terminal illness and their families. The organisation helped to care for over 40,000 people across the United Kingdom last year. Ian 21