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Grandchildren of Pierre and Marie Curie deliver speeches at Beida

Peking University, Oct. 17, 2013: On the eve of the centennial anniversary celebration of Peking University’s School of Physics, two distinguished professors, Hélène Langevin-Joliot and PierreJoliot, grandchildren of Pierre and Marie Curie, delivered speeches to the faculty members and students at PKU. Qian Sijin, professor of the School of physics, presided over the speeches.


Professor Qian began the event with brief introductions of the two honorable speakers. He also acknowledged this ‘Nobel Prize family’. Their grandparents, Pierre and Marie Curie, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics (1903). In 1911, Marie Curie, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their parents, Frédéric Joliot-Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their uncle was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965. In total, there are 5 persons within the three generations in the Curie family who share 4 Nobel Prizes.


In Professor Hélène Langevin-Joliot’s speech, she spoke about her families. Through her narration of photographs she displayed, we became well acquainted with this family, in both their academic lives and their daily lives,


Professor Hélène’s introduction to the discovery of pure radium revealed Marie Curie’s scientific dream, despite the radioactivity of this element. A photo of the Nobel Prize winner shown on the screen, brought us back to 1935, a year filled with the scientific spirit of these great scientists.


In Professor PierreJoliot’s speech, he first gave an overview of his experience of 60 years in research. He mentioned the positive impacts of his science-related family. Then, he showed us the differences in the management of basic and applied researches. He said that his research was a part of basic research and pointed out some of the difficulties of basic research. “In basic research, you have a long-term goal and sometimes don’t know what you are researching and even don’t know what you can find”, Professor Pierre explained. He further explained these problems from a political standpoint, saying“[this] means basic research is unpredictable and this concept is difficult to be accepted by politicians for they want to know what you are doing and what you can find.”


Other than that, he focused on evaluation of research and the issue of how to preserve creativity in the future. He believes that the core of the progress in research is creativity. An excellent research should contain something novel, which is sometimes lacking in some papers even published papers, that only reflect the leader’s view of the domain. Researchers were encouraged to think in a way outside of the mainstream, which is quite rare at present.


When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of women in scientific research, Professor Hélène responded that she did not think that there were any differences between different genders, an opinion well exemplified by her grandmother, Marie Curie. On how to arouse children’s interest in science, Professor Pierre said that with the family factor removed, education could make a difference. After being shown a science experiment, the children would be willing to say what they saw or what they know through the experiment, this is when interest in science is stimulated through proper ways.


Background Info:


Professor Hélène Langevin-Joliotis a French nuclear physicist. She was educated at the Institut de physique nucléaire (English: Institute of Nuclear Physics) at Orsay, a laboratory which was set up by her parents Irène Joliot-Curie and Frédéric Joliot-Curie.Between 1982-1986, she was the president of the National Center for Scientific Research  Committee for Nuclear Physics and Member of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Scientific Board. She is a member of the French government’s advisory committee.


Professor PierreJoliot is a noted Frenchbiologist and researcher for the CNRS. As a researcher there from1956, he became Director of Research in 1974 and a member of their scientific council in 1992.He was a scientific advisor to the French Prime Minister from 1985 to 1986. PierreJoliot held the Chair of Cellular Bioenergetics (1981–2002) at the Collège de France and is now emeritus professor. He is also a member of the Academy of Science of France.


Reported by:  MengYiran

Edited by: Candice Liao, Zhang Jiang

Source: Wikipedia