Como os comenté el lunes pasado, he tenido el honor de hacer una colaboración en el ciclo CIENTÍFIC@S EN 1 MINUTO del canal de YouTube de Javi (@parador08). No sé si eso ya me convierte en una yayatuber…
Javi, que se define como un espaciotrastornado, creó el canal para tener una ventana al mundo donde mostrar lo que le gusta. En este pueden encontrarse gotas de ciencia y videojuegos. La divulgación de la ciencia le parece algo sumamente importante y siente que toda la comunidad le ha tratado muy bien desde el principio. Uno de sus objetivos es apoyar a los divulgadores y divulgadoras todo lo que puede y os puedo asegurar que ese cariño se nota. Igual que se percibe el mimo con el que realiza el material que ofrece en su cuenta de YouTube y en Twitter.
Por lo que se refiere a mi participación, debo confesar que me ha resultado muy difícil resumir la vida de una mujer tan excepcional como Irène Curie en tan poco tiempo cuando podría pasarme horas hablando de ella. No, no es una amenaza. Es que cuanto más leo sobre ella, más fascinante me parece. Debajo del vídeo transcribo el obituario que el físico James Chadwick, ganador del Premio Nobel de Física el mismo año que ella y Frédéric ganaban el de química, le hizo en Nature.
OBITUARY – Mme. Irène Joliot-Curie
ALTHOUGH the health of Madame Irène Joliot-Curie had given cause for anxiety for several years, her death on March 17 came as an unexpected shock to those outside her immediate circle, not only to those who had known her personally but also to all who have worked or studied in the field of radioactivity. She was born in the stirring days of radioactivity when her parents were making their great discoveries, she grew up with radioactivity, and all her working life was devoted to its study. She bore an honoured name, to which she added lustre by many contributions of great importance in radioactivity and in the development of nuclear physics.
Irène Curie was born on September 12, 1897, the first child of Pierre and Marie Curie, née Sklodowska, a few months before the publication of the papers announcing the discovery of polonium and of radium. Her early training was interrupted by the First World War, during part of which she served as a radiographer, and afterwards she became ‘préparateur‘ to her mother at the Laboratoire Curie of the Institut du Radium in Paris. Here she received a thorough grounding in all aspects of radioactivity, both physical and chemical, which gave a secure basis for her future work. Her first important paper was on the in 1925. ln 1926 she married Frederic Joliot, who had joined the Institut du Radium a year or two earlier as special assistant to Mme. Curie, and there began a collaboration of husband and wife in scientific work rivalling in productive genius even that of her parents. Equal in the partnership, each was a fitting complement to the other, and together they published some remarkable work. The most outstanding of their joint papers were published in the years 1932-34. ln the first of these, on the radiation excited in beryllium by alfa-particles, they reported a very strange effect which provided the clue to the discovery of the neutron. Then, after studying the conditions of excitation of neutrons by the impact of alfa-particles on various elements, they turned for a time to the ‘materialization’ of positive electrons through the action of gamma-rays of high energy. This was followed by a systematic study of the radiations emitted from the lighter chemical elements under the impact of a-particles, which through the light of intuition-and good technique-led them, in early 1934, to their beautiful discovery of artificial radioactivity. An interesting feature of this discovery is that it was so long in coming; for the phenomenon of artificial radioactivity had been expected, and sought for, since the earliest days of radioactivity. For this discovery the Joliot-Curies were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935.
About two years later, Mme. Joliot-Curie was appointed by M. Blum as Under-Secretary of State for Scientific Research. This office and her numerous other duties must have absorbed a great deal of her time and attention ; moreover, her health was showing signs of having been affected by her exposure to radiation during years of work with strongly radioactive materials. But her scientific work continued without abatement. With P. Savic, she examined in detail the artificial radioelements produced by the irradiation of uranium by slow neutrons, analysing the products and identifying them chemically, and she came within a hair’s-breadth of recognizing that the phenomenon involved in the production of these elements was that of fission . Then came the Second World War and the German occupation of France, during the last year or two of which she retired to Switzerland with her two children.
When the French atomic energy project was started in late 1945, she was appointed one of the four scientific commissioners, the others being F. Joliot-Curie, P. Auger and F. Perrin. When Joliot was dismissed in 1950 on account of his Communistic activities, she retained her post and served the full term of five years; but on the reorganization of the Commission early in 1951 she was no longer included. During these years she was the chief link between the Commission and the Institut du Radium and the University of Paris, and she served as the Commission’s representative on several committees. She continued at the same time to publish work on various aspects of radioactivity, for her ardour for scientific research was such that neither administrative duties nor failing health could keep her from her laboratory.
Her parents were both persons of strong and independent mind, and Mme. Joliot-Curie inherited much of their character as well as their scientific genius. She had a powerful personality, simple, direct and self-reliant. She knew her mind and spoke it, sometimes perhaps with devastating frankness ; but her remarks were informed with such regard for scientific truth and with such conspicuous sincerity that, they commanded the greatest respect in all circumstances. In all her work, whether in the laboratory, in discussion, or in committee, she set herself the highest standards and she was most conscientious in the fulfilment of any duties she undertook. She leaves with her husband two children-a daughter Helene, married to a grandson of the late Prof. P. Langevin, and a son Pierre.
Nature, No. 4517, May 26, 1956