Marie curie and the radium industry: A preliminary sketch

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I argue that Marie Curie's involvement with the radium industry was essential to her research agenda. Curie's strategy of accumulation, through which she sought to further the study of radioactivity by the sheer accumulation of radioactive substances, demanded industrial resources. This led her to collaborate with the nascent French radium industry in the 1900s, and to seek logistic assistance from several radium producers, including the world's largest, in the interwar years. Increasingly uneasy about her dependence on firms, however, during the 1920s Curie argued relentlessly for the creation of a national centre for radioactivity in France, of which an industrial facility would be an essential part. Oblivious to disciplinary boundaries, Curie's project reflected her integrated vision of radioactivity as the science of the radioelements. Curie's enduring industrial concerns challenge her carefully-built heroic image as a pure scientist - which can be traced back, somewhat ironically, to Curie's campaign to provide her lab with ‘industrial means of action’. © 1997 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-291
JournalHistory and Technology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1997


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