March 25, 1903, The Times newspaper (UK) reported that French scientists, Marie Sklodowska Curie and Pierre Curie, communicated to the Academy of Sciences that the recently discovered Radium “possesses the extraordinary property of continuously emitting heat, without combustion, without chemical change of any kind, and without any change to its molecular structure, which remains spectroscopically identical after many months of continuous emission of heat … such that the pure Radium salt would melt more than its own weight of ice every hour … A small tube containing Radium, if kept in contact with the skin for some hours … produces an open sore, by destroying the epidermis and the true skin beneath … and cause the death of living things whose nerve centres do not lie deep enough to be shielded from their influence.”
Their studies of radioactive substances were achieved under conditions of much hardship – barely adequate laboratory facilities and under the stress of having to do much teaching in order to earn their livelihood. Together, they discovered radium and polonium in their investigation of radioactivity by fractionation of pitchblende. Later they did much to elucidate the properties of radium and its transformation products. Their work in this era formed the basis for much of the subsequent research in nuclear physics and chemistry.
Marie Curie here: http://bit.ly/11yiEEm