Marie Curie’s notebooks are stored under lead

Marie Curie’s notebooks are stored in the cellars of the Bibliothèque nationale de Paris. They were deposited there in boxes and under several layers of lead. These notebooks contain the most important documentation in the history of science.

Marie Curie
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Marie Curie’s notebooks are in the Bibliothèque de Paris

In order to see these notebooks, scientists have to wear special suits. They also have to protect themselves like cosmonauts when they travel into space. They also sign a protocol that states that they are responsible for anything that might happen to them. In other words, the Parisian library is exempted from any responsibility.

The National Library of Paris has among its treasures invaluable books and historical documents. However, Madame Curie’s notebooks are the best kept and guarded documents of the Institution.

Although the library’s misgivings are not because of how valuable they are to modern science. The notebooks are under several layers of lead because they are highly radioactive. Marie Curie, along with her husband Pierre Curie, discovered previously unknown chemical elements.

In the midst of their research, they wrote down their discoveries in notebooks and notepads. These new elements had to do with radium, and it was the beginning of atomic physics. The word radioactivity derives from this chemical element with which they worked without protection, radium.

All the items they handled were exposed to that radioactivity, like their notebooks and notebooks. When the couple discovered radium and Polonium they did not imagine how harmful they were to their own bodies.

Marie Curie
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Marie Curie’s death is linked to radioactivity

Because of that ignorance, Marie died of aplastic anemia in 1934. She usually carried samples of these two radioactive elements in her pockets. That exposure is what caused her illness from which she eventually died.

For these reasons, everything preserved from Madame Curie’s belongings is jealously guarded. All those treasures for science are protected in lead boxes. Even Marie’s grave is in the Pantheon in Paris, which guards the French glories. But the body is kept in a lead coffin.

The coffin has an inch of solid lead to prevent radioactivity from emanating from the corpse. It is estimated that the documents stored in the basement of the library will remain for about 1500 years. They calculate that this is the time it will take for the radium atoms to disintegrate.

The house where he lived was also isolated

The house where Madame Curie spent her life is also barred from entry. The building is in Arcueil, south of Paris, enclosed by a high wall. Barbed wires crown the walls and the entrance to the house. A system of cameras monitors the surroundings to detect possible intruders.

Although the other house, on Rue de la Convention, where Marie worked until her death, is abandoned. Parisians call it the Chernobyl of the Seine, because of the high radioactive levels. After the scientist’s death, the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Faculty of Sciences of Paris operated in that building. But they discovered that everything there was contaminated. So in the 1980s, the building was emptied.

During an inspection, traces of uranium with an average lifespan of about 4500 years were found in the building. From that date, it was decided that all of Marie Curie’s notebooks should be protected under several layers of lead. These documents are now part of the French National Heritage.

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