Tuesday, June 2, 2020

blinding us with science

I found news in le Parisien newspaper that the grand-daughter of Marie Curie  - yes that woman who won two Nobel prizes  - invited a visit to her home in Antony - outside Paris.
In early March a team from ANDRA - National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management visited Hélène Langevin-Joliot, daughter of Irene and Frédéric Joliot-Curie and granddaughter of Pierre and Marie Curie, to deal with radioactive objects. (L-R Marie Curie, daughter and grand-daughter Hélène w/bob)
These radioactive objects were broadly listed as Marie Curie's personal clothing in an armoire.
Did Hélène, her grand-daughter and physicist herself, decide that these legacies are best left out of the Curie legacy? The uranium ores and bulbs containing radium salts that are supposed to be on the personal effects were  entrusted to ANDRA so according to Hélène, "it won't be a problem later".
I found this fascinating that Hélène, now in her 90's had left this until now.  In the 2000's when I researched Marie Curie's lab for a scene in Murder in the Latin Quarter, it had only been recently been de-radioactivized - if that's a word - by ANDRA. Marie Curie's papers held in the National Archives were still radioactive and if you wished to consult them you had to sign a waiver acknowledging the danger and wear  gloves. Maybe Hélène, who knew her grandmother, hadn't been able to let go of her things. I inherited my grandmothers chest of things: Nancy Drew mysteries from the 30s, motheaten silk beaded flapper dresses of the 20s, sagging photo albums of figures in sepia who remain a mystery. Nothing radioactive as far as I know.
Hélène's mother Isabel, also a Nobel winner, Marie and Hélene.
Hélène, a doctor of Physics today.

Cara -Tuesday


  1. I wonder what my grandchildren will think of what personal effects I leave for them. :)

  2. Imagine that!! I have things that belong to my grandmother too. But a grandmother who left behind radioactive clothing??? Wow. Just WOW!!