Real Entrepreneur: Madame Curie

Anmol Mohan
"Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit."
- Madame Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie was born in 1867 in Poland. She was an outstanding student from childhood. She used to study at a secret school called 'Floating University.' Poland at the time was under the Russian Occupation, and it was forbidden to study Polish History. The school kept changing its location to avoid detection, hence the name. The traits of a rebel-genius were clear from inception.

Later, Madame Curie will become the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1903. She was fascinated by radioactivity and theorized that the property is linked to the atom of the element. She also coined the term radioactivity.

Madame Curie noticed that that the mineral called pitchblende was much more radioactive as a Uranium ore than the pure element Uranium.

She was convinced that there is another chemical element which is much more radioactive than Uranium. Almost all scientists at the time doubted her assumptions, but she kept following her intrinsic motivation. She used the standard techniques of analytical chemistry to hustle. She and her husband eventually succeeded in isolating not one but two new radioactive elements.

They named the latter Radium, which won her another Nobel Prize for Chemistry. She remains the only person to have won two Nobels in two different fields.

It is rather unfortunate that we remember her achievements as a female scientist rather than just a scientist. But therein lies the lesson. It was an era when women were considered too sentimental to contribute to science objectively. Even her work was not enough for the Nobel committee to pay attention. Initially, the committee only planned to give the prize to her husband, Pierre. Only when he insisted on adding her name, she got what she deserved. Not that she cared about it, the Curies refused to go to Stockholm to receive the prize because they were too busy with their work.

The urge to prove that the status-quo is unreasonable, disrespectful, and unacceptable, motivated her. Her passion was driven by a dedication to her craft, not by money or fame.

Madame Curie's passion went beyond science. She used to think as a society. When Pierre proposed, he wrote, "It would be a beautiful thing, to pass through life together hypnotized in our dreams: your dream for your country; our dream for humanity; our dream for science."

Its only fitting that she eventually died from the radioactive exposure from her Radium test tubes she used to carry in her pockets. Nothing can be nobler than an end, which was in pursuit of excellence devoted to a greater good.

So why does it matter?

As we celebrate International Women's Day in 2020, we as a society have not provided enough credit to the contributions of women. Discrimination exists, and it is not going away anytime soon. We have to realize that by not doing enough to eradicate discrimination, we are creating a world that will be self-destructive. It is hindering the progress, and no one is immune to it.

We all should learn from the spirit of Madame Curie. Nothing is impossible if your intentions are pure, and your vision is clear. There will always be people who will think less of you because of your gender, race, roles, and many other factors. That should not stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. Entrepreneurship is a mindset, a philosophy.


Anmol Mohan

I am just trying to make sense of this world. I am interested in the hardest puzzles like Consciousness, Humanity and Multiverse. Sharing my honest learning during this journey.