A long term affair with science: Happy birthday Marie Curie

with Brigitte Van Tiggelen

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This podcast has a very special connection with the legendary Madame Curie. As most listeners will know by now, I am an academic researcher based in Ghent, Belgium, and my work is funded by one of the Marie Curie Actions, which are European mobility research grants. This grant has changed my life in many ways, and it is meaningful to me that it is named after Madame Curie. Since when I found out that I got the grant, about two and a half years ago, I started educating myself about her work, her lfe, her legacy. I became passionate about Madame Curie and I am particularly happy to bring this special episode of my podcast to you celebrating her birthday, November 7th (1867).

To celebrate her birthday and honour her memory, I have asked a world-class historian of science, Brigitte Van Tiggelen, to join me on Technoculture. Among other appointments, Brigitte is Director of the European Operations at the Science History Institute, Chair of the division of History of Chemistry inside the European Chemical Society, and associate at the Centre d'histoire des sciences et des techniques de l'Université catholique de Louvain à Louvain-la-Neuve, in Belgium.

In November 2019, Brigitte and I met again, exactly a year after our first interview, to record the short clip for EuroScientist.

I spent a delightful hour speaking with Brigitte. Besides honouring Marie Curie on her birthday, we have opened more questions that we have closed: hence I am excited to announce that this episode will have a follow-up, where we will talk about the idea of the "heroic creator", the "solitary genius" in science and research, and how it constitutes a powerful image on which so much of the rethoric around science rests, but also how it underserves the community when it comes to providing realistic role models. Brigitte and I found that Marie Curie, for one, both a woman and an icon, becomes an ever stronger model and a truly inspiring story when she is "given back to herself", when the humanity of her life is portrait for what it was, in its everyday complexity like the lives of all of us. Tune in for the follow-up episode and meanwhile... thank you Marie Curie, and happy birthday!

"One cannot but be struck by the expression of the large, limpid eyes that seem to be following some inner vision." (Marie Curie on her husband, in her book "Pierre Curie")

Page created: November 2018
Update: November 2019
Last update: October 2020