Marie Curie for the shiny stuff
Marie would sometimes
sleep with a little jar of radium, gently glowing in the dark next to her bed -
a reward for the hard labour of extracting it from pitchblende during the day.
Radium was once added to toothpaste and other products for its supposed curative powers.
Four years after her husband Pierre died (after slipping while crossing the road, one of the wheels
of a heavy horse-drawn cart ran over his head), a huge scandal erupted in France when Marie became
involved in a torrid love affair with a former student Paul Langevin, who was married with
four children. To defend Marie's honour, Langevin challenged a newspaper editor to a duel,
though no shots were fired. In an attempt to calm the situation, Einstein argued that
"despite her passionate nature, she is not attractive enough to represent a threat to anyone".