Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Marie Curie, fully Marie Skłodowska-Curie, originally Manya Sklodowska

Polish-born French Physicist, Winner of Two Nobel Prizes including one in Chemistry and one on Radioactivity

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done."

"You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful."

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained."

"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."

"We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained."

"Ignoring the possibility of personal involvement is the first step to panic and tragedy."

"All my life through, the new sights of nature made me rejoice like a child."

"A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales."

"After all, science is essentially international, and it is only through lack of the historical sense that national qualities have been attributed to it."

"At the outbreak of World War I, on the need to train people to use X-rays to examine injuries."

"For the admirable gift of himself, and for the magnificent service he renders humanity, what reward does our society offer the scientist? Have these servants of an idea the necessary means of work? Have they an assured existence, sheltered from care? The example of Pierre Curie, and of others, shows that they have none of these things; and that more often, before they can secure possible working conditions, they have to exhaust their youth and their powers in daily anxieties. Our society, in which reigns an eager desire for riches and luxury, does not understand the value of science. It does not realize that science is a most precious part of its moral patrimony. Nor does it take sufficient cognizance of the fact that science is at the base of all the progress that lightens the burden of life and lessens its suffering. Neither public powers nor private generosity actually accord to science and to scientists the support and the subsidies indispensable to fully effective work."

"Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. A well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research."

"Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research."

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. We should not allow it to be believed that all scientific progress can be reduced to mechanisms, machines, gearings, even though such machinery also has its beauty. Neither do I believe that the spirit of adventure runs any risk of disappearing in our world. If I see anything vital around me, it is precisely that spirit of adventure, which seems indestructible and is akin to curiosity."

"Certain bodies... become luminous when heated. Their luminosity disappears after some time, but the capacity of becoming luminous afresh through heat is restored to them by the action of a spark, and also by the action of radium."

"I am one of those who think like Nobel, than humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries."

"I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory."

"I believe international work is a heavy task, but that it is nevertheless indispensable to go through an apprenticeship in it, at the cost of many efforts and also of a real spirit of sacrifice: however imperfect it may be, the work of Geneva has a grandeur that deserves our support."

"I have frequently been questioned, especially by women, of how I could reconcile family life with a scientific career. Well, it has not been easy."

"I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done."

"I shall devote only a few lines to the expression of my belief in the importance of science ? it is by this daily striving after knowledge that man has raised himself to the unique position he occupies on earth, and that his power and well-being have continually increased."

"I walked beside the evening sea And dreamed a dream that could not be; The waves that plunged along the shore Said only: "Dreamer, dream no more!""

"I was taught that the way of progress I neither swift nor easy."

"In science we must be interested in things, not in persons."

"It is my earnest desire that some of you should carry on this scientific work and keep for your ambition the determination to make a permanent contribution to science."

"It was like a new world opened to me, the world of science, which I was at last permitted to know in all liberty."

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained."

"My experiments proved that the radiation of uranium compounds... is an atomic property of the element of uranium. Its intensity is proportional to the quantity of uranium contained in the compound, and depends neither on conditions of chemical combination, nor on external circumstances, such as light or temperature."

"It was necessary at this point to find a new term to define this new property of matter manifested by the elements of uranium and thorium. I proposed the word radioactivity which has since become generally adopted; the radioactive elements have been called radio elements."

"So perished the hope founded on the wonderful being who thus ceased to be. In the study room to which he was never to return, the water buttercups he had brought from the country were still fresh."

"Scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium, a benefit."

"Radium is not to enrich any one. It is an element; it is for all people."

"One of our pleasures was to enter our workshop at night; then, all around us we would see the luminous silhouettes of the beakers and capsules that contained our products."

"The older one gets, the more one feels that the present moment must be enjoyed, comparable to a state of grace."

"Sometimes my courage fails me and I think I ought to stop working, live in the country and devote myself to gardening. But I am held by a thousand bonds, and I don't know when I shall be able to arrange things otherwise. Nor do I know whether, even by writing scientific books, I could live without the laboratory."

"The various reasons we have just enumerated lead us to believe that the new radioactive substance contains a new element to which we propose to give the name of RADIUM."

"The radiation of thorium has an intensity of the same order as that of uranium, and is, as in the case of uranium, an atomic property of the element."

"There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth."

"The way of progress is neither swift nor easy."

"This means that we have here an entirely separate kind of chemistry for which the current tool we use is the electrometer, not the balance, and which we might well call the chemistry of the imponderable."

"We believe the substance we have extracted from pitch-blende contains a metal not yet observed, related to bismuth by its analytical properties. If the existence of this new metal is confirmed we propose to call it polonium, from the name of the original country of one of us."

"We cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individual. Toward this end, each of us must work for his own highest development, accepting at the same time his share of responsibility in the general life of humanity?our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful."

"We must act."

"We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something."

"When one studies strongly radioactive substances special precautions must be taken if one wishes to be able to take delicate measurements. The various objects used in a chemical laboratory and those used in a chemical laboratory, and those which serve for experiments in physics, become radioactive in a short time and act upon photographic plates through black paper. Dust, the air of the room, and one's clothes all become radioactive."

"We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity."

"Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated."