On April 20, 1902, Marie and Pierre Curie successfully isolate radioactive radium salts from the mineral pitchblende in their laboratory in Paris. In 1898, the Curies discovered the existence of the elements radium and polonium in their research of pitchblende. One year after isolating radium, they would share the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics with French scientist A. Henri Becquerel for their groundbreaking investigations of radioactivity.
Marie Curie was born Marie Sklodowska in Warsaw, Poland, in 1867. The daughter of a physics teacher, she was a gifted student and in 1891 went to study at the Sorbonne in Paris. With highest honors, she received a degree in physical sciences in 1893 and in mathematics in 1894. That year she met Pierre Curie, a noted French physicist and chemist who had done important work in magnetism. Marie and Pierre married in 1895, marking the beginning of a scientific partnership that would achieve world renown.