■ The inventor of Esperanto, L.L. Zamenhof, was Polish. The word ‘esperanto’ translates into: ‘one who hopes.’
Casimir Zeglen, a Polish immigrant in Chicago (and a priest), designed the bulletproof vest in 1893. It was made of silk layers and a steel plate.
Catherine the Great was born in Stettin, Prussia, which is now Szczecin, Poland. She went on to rule Russia.
Jerzy Kosinski was Polish. His book ‘Being There’ was later made into a film.
■ Frederic Chopin was born near Warsaw in Żelazowa Wola and made his fame in Paris.
■ So did Madame Marie Curie – the first woman to win the Nobel Prize (in 2 categories / 2 sciences, no less) and the University of Paris’ first female professor.
■ Copernicus, the man who ‘stopped the sun and moved the earth,’ gave the world its first Heliocentric model of the solar system. Most don’t know he was a clergyman and very religious; he wasn’t trying to undermine Catholicism.
■ Jerzy Rozycki, Henryk Zygalski and Marian Rejewski were the Polish mathematicians behind the breaking of the German Enigma Machine code, helping the Allied war effort. It’s estimated that help ended the war 2 years earlier.
Henri Becquerel was born in Paris, France on December 15, 1852 into an illustrious scientific family, which produced four generations of scientists. He studied history at the École Polytechnique and engineering at the École des Ponts et Chaussées. In 1892, he became the third in his family to occupy the physics chair at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. In 1896, while investigating the work of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen and phosphorescence in uranium salts, Becquerel accidentally discovered radioactivity. Becquerel wrapped a fluorescent substance potassium uranyl sulfate in photographic plates and black material in preparation for an experiment requiring bright sunlight. Prior to actually performing the experiment, however,Becquerel found that the photographic plates were already exposed, showing an image of the substance. This discovery led Becquerel to investigate the spontaneous emission of nuclear radiation. In 1903 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Marie and Pierre Curie for his pioneering work on radiation. It was Madame Marie Curie who is credited with coining the word radiation.
Today the becquerel (symbol Bq) (pronounced: ‘be-kə-rel) is the SI-derived unit of radioactivity. One Bq is defined as the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second. Bonne Anniversaire, Henri!
Image of Henri Becquerel by Paul Nadar, image in the public domain.
Today is the birthday of Marie Skłodowska-Curie (7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934), a Franco-Polish chemist and physicist famous for her pioneering work on radioactivity with her husband, Pierre Curie.
When the Curies saw radium glowing in a test tube at the turn of the last century, they knew that they were seeing something new for which no word existed. The word they coined, radioactive, was a combination of the Latin word radius meaning a ray and the French word actif from the Latin word actus meaning a doing, a driving, impulse; a part in a play. The Curies were attempting to convey what they were seeing-energy radiating out from the material. Today, radioactive decay is defined as the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles. There are many types of radioactivity classified today, but all fall under the larger definition of activity radiating out in rays.
The Polish Film Commission has announced a film about the life of radiology pioneer and Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, the Polish-born scientist who spent most of her life in France will be directed by France’s Marie Noelle.
The European co-production will star Karolina Gruszka as Curie and Daniel Olbrychski as her scientific rival, Emile Amagat.
The film, working title Maria Sklodowskya-Curie, is the first cinematic treatment of the life of a woman who won a double Nobel Prize for chemistry and physics since MGM’s black-and-white 1943 classic Madame Curie starring Greer Garson.