Marie Curie: The Inventor Of The Radiological Car

Marie Curie, also known as Marie Skłodowska, was born in Warsaw, Poland. Marie was born into a family of teachers who had a strong belief in education which fueled her motivation and passion to study Physics. In hopes of pursuing her studies, Curie moved to Paris; while there she met her future husband and colleague in the field, Pierre Curie. Together the two of them were both awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, becoming the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Sadly three years later Pierre passed away in 1906, but Marie continued their work. Marie later received her second Nobel Prize 8 years later in Chemistry as well and became the first person ever to be awarded two Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. While Pierre was still alive, they used the money that they were awarded was spent on continuing their research in radiology.

With the help of her husband Pierre, Marie was able to discover radioactivity and she also discovered the radioactive elements radium (Ra) and polonium (Po). One of Marie’s greatest achievements in Physics was creating an entirely new method to discover elements by measuring their radioactivity. According to George State University Department of Physics and Astronomy, radioactivity “refers to the particles which are emitted from nuclei as a result of nuclear instability.” With the help of Marie’s new method, within the next decade scientists who located the source and composition of radioactivity made more discoveries concerning the atom and its structure than ever before.

In 1914, Marie Curie utilized her development of x-rays to contribute in winning the Battle of Marne and began teaching women to be future x-ray operators. With German troops heading toward her hometown of Paris Marie knew she had to put her research on hold. She gathered all of her radium and put it in a safe container and transported it by train to Bordeaux, located in France 375 miles away from Paris. Now that she had nothing to do she decided to return to Paris and redirect her scientific skills toward the war effort and created technology to save lives. At the start of the war, x-ray machines were still only available in city hospitals, far from the war were wounded troops needed to be treated. Marie’s solution to this issue was to invent a vehicle equipped with an x-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment. Marie dubbed this invention as a “radiological car”. The thought behind these vehicles is that they could be driven up to the battlefield where army surgeons could use x-rays to help guide their surgeries. Marie struggled finding funding for her invention but turned to The Union of Women of France, who gave her the funding she needed to produce the first car. This first car ended up playing a pivotal role in treating the wounded soldier at the Battle of Marne.

After this more radiological cars were needed so Marie exploited her scientific influence to ask a wealthy women to donate vehicles. Not soon after she had acquired twenty new cars which she outfitted with x-ray equipment. However, these cars would be useless without having anyone body in them who can operate the equipment so Marie started to train women volunteers. Within the first training course she recruited 20 women who she taught along with her daughter Irene, a future Nobel Prize winner herself.

The curriculum Marie taught these women included theoretical instruction about the physics of electricity and x-rays as well as practical lessons in anatomy and photographic processing. When that group had finished its training, it left for the front, and Curie then trained more women. In the end, a total of 150 women received X-ray training from Curie.

Over the years there have been medical advancements in cancer research due to the utilization of x-rays and are applied in the field. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation that can penetrate clothing, body tissue, and internal organs. An X-ray machine sends this radiation through the body. Some of the radiation emerges on the other side of the body, where it exposes film or is absorbed by a digital detector to create an image. With these images doctors and surgeons can diagnose, state, and even treat cancers. One example is with chest x-rays, they can be used to help diagnose, stage and treat lung cancer. In the medical field, x-rays have a dual purpose, in low doses x-rays can be used to construct images of forgein objects (such as a tumor) inside of the body. This helps surgeons or doctors get a sense of what they’re dealing with which helps them detect and stage a tumor. Oppositely, in higher doses, x-rays can be used in a form of treatment called radiation therapy to help kill cancerous cells in the body. 

16 December 2021
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