Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie

name = Pierre Curie

caption = Pierre Curie (1859-1906)
birth_date = 15 May 1859
birth_place = Paris, France
death_date = death date and age|df=yes|1906|4|19|1859|5|5
death_place = Paris, France
nationality = French
field = Physics
work_institutions = Sorbonne
alma_mater = Sorbonne
doctoral_advisor =
doctoral_students = Paul Langevin
André-Louis Debierne
Marguerite Catherine Perey
known_for = Radioactivity
prizes = Nobel Prize in Physics (1903)
footnotes = Married to Marie Curie (m. 1895), their children include Irène Joliot-Curie and Ève Curie.

Pierre Curie (15 May 1859 – 19 April 1906) was a French physicist, a pioneer in crystallography, magnetism, piezoelectricity and radioactivity.

He shared the 1903 Nobel Prize in physics with his wife, Maria Skłodowska-Curie (Marie Curie), and Henri Becquerel, "in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel."

Early life and work

Born in Paris, France, Pierre was educated by his father, and in his early teens showed a strong aptitude for mathematics and geometry. By the age of 18 he had completed the equivalent of a higher degree, but did not proceed immediately to a doctorate due to lack of money. Instead he worked as a laboratory instructor.

In 1880, Pierre and his older brother Jacques demonstrated that an electric potential was generated when crystals were compressed, i.e. piezoelectricity. Shortly afterwards, in 1881, they demonstrated the reverse effect: that crystals could be made to deform when subject to an electric field. Almost all digital electronic circuits now rely on this phenomenon in the form of crystal oscillators.

Prior to his famous doctoral studies on magnetism he designed and perfected an extremely sensitive torsion balance for measuring magnetic coefficients. Variations on this equipment were commonly used by future workers in that area. Pierre Curie studied ferromagnetism, paramagnetism, and diamagnetism for his doctoral thesis, and discovered the effect of temperature on paramagnetism which is now known as Curie's law. The material constant in Curie's law is known as the Curie constant. He also discovered that ferromagnetic substances exhibited a critical temperature transition, above which the substances lost their ferromagnetic behavior. This is now known as the Curie point.

Pierre formulated what is now known as the "Curie Dissymmetry Principle": a physical effect cannot have a dissymmetry absent from its efficient cause. For example, a random mixture of sand in zero gravity has no dissymmetry (it is isotropic). Introduce a gravitational field, then there is a dissymmetry because of the direction of the field. Then the sand grains can ‘self-sort’ with the density increasing with depth. But this new arrangement, with the directional arrangement of sand grains, actually reflects the dissymmetry of the gravitational field that causes the separation.


Pierre worked with his wife Marie Curie in isolating polonium and radium. They were the first to use the term "radioactivity," and were pioneers in its study. Their work, including Marie's celebrated doctoral work, made use of a sensitive piezoelectric electrometer constructed by Pierre and his brother Jacques.

Pierre and one of his students made the first discovery of nuclear energy, by identifying the continuous emission of heat from radium particles. He also investigated the radiation emissions of radioactive substances, and through the use of magnetic fields was able to show that some of the emissions were positively charged, some were negative and some were neutral. These correspond to alpha, beta and gamma radiation.

The curie is a unit of radioactivity (3.7 x 1010 decays per second or 37 gigabecquerels) originally named in honour of Pierre Curie by the Radiology Congress in 1910, after Pierre's death. Subsequently, there has been some controversy over whether the naming was in honour of Pierre, Marie, or both. [cite web | author = Paul W. Frame | title = How the Curie Came to Be | url = http://www.orau.org/ptp/articlesstories/thecurie.htm | accessdate = 2008-04-30]

Pierre and Marie Curie's daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and their son-in-law Frédéric Joliot-Curie were also physicists involved in the study of radioactivity, and were also awarded the Nobel prize for their work. Their other daughter Ève wrote her mother's biography. His granddaughter Hélène Langevin-Joliot is a professor of nuclear physics at the University of Paris and his grandson, Pierre Joliot, who was named after him, is a noted biochemist.


Pierre died as a result of a carriage accident in a rain storm while crossing the "Rue Dauphine" in Paris on 19 April 1906. Both Pierre and Marie were enshrined in the crypt of the Panthéon in Paris in April 1995.


* Nobel Prize in Physics (1903)
* Davy Medal (1903)
* Matteucci Medal (1904)

ee also

*Eusapia Palladino


External links

* [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/articles/curie/index.html NOBELPRIZE.ORG: History of Pierre and Marie]
* [http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1903/index.html Pierre Curie's Nobel prize]
* [http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1903/pierre-curie-bio.html Official Nobel biography]
* [http://www.aip.org/history/curie/pierre.htm Biography American Institute of Physics]
* [http://alsos.wlu.edu/qsearch.aspx?browse=people/Curie,+Pierre Annotated bibliography for Pierre Curie from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues]
* [http://www.academie-sciences.fr/membres/in_memoriam/Curie/Curie_publi.htm Curie's publication in French Academy of Sciences papers]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9402E4DC1438EF32A25753C2A9629C946797D6CF "Prof. Curie killed in a Paris street": article of The New York Times about Curie death]
* [http://himetop.wikidot.com/pierre-curie Some places and memories related to Pierre Curie]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pierre Curie — (* 15. Mai 1859 in Paris; † 19. April 1906 ebenda) war ein französischer Physiker und Nobelpreisträger. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pierre Curie — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Pierre Curie Científico francés …   Wikipedia Español

  • Pierre Curie — (París, 15 de mayo de 1859 París, 19 de abril de 1906) fue un físico francés, pionero en el estudio de la radioactividad. Obtuvo el premio Nobel con su mujer Marie Curie, otra famosa física, en 1903 en reconocimiento de lo extraordinarios… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Pierre Curie — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Curie. Pierre Curie Naissance 15 mai 1859 Paris (France) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pierre Curie — noun French physicist; husband of Marie Curie (1859 1906) • Syn: ↑Curie • Instance Hypernyms: ↑physicist …   Useful english dictionary

  • Pierre Curie — n. (1857 1906) French physicist and chemist, co discoverer of radium, Nobel prize winner (husband of Marie Curie) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Pierre Curie (métro parisien) — Pierre et Marie Curie (métro de Paris) Pierre et Marie Curie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rue Pierre-Curie (Paris) — Rue Pierre et Marie Curie 5e arrt …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Physiknobelpreis 1903: Henri Becquerel — Marie Curie — Pierre Curie —   Henri Becquerel wurde für die Entdeckung des Phänomens der Radioaktivität ausgezeichnet. Die zweite Hälfte des Preises erhielten Marie und Pierre Curie für ihre gemeinsamen Untersuchungen zur radioaktiven Strahlung.    Biografien   Antoine… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • CURIE (LES) — Dans l’histoire de la radioactivité, depuis sa découverte et pendant les soixante années qui suivirent, le nom des Curie s’inscrit au premier plan. Les plus éminents représentants de cette famille de savants français ont été Pierre Curie (1859… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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