Joliot-Curie and artificial radioactivity

Irene was alone at home as her husband Frederic had to give a lecture early in the morning. Their two children were taken for a walk by the nanny, and Irene was sitting at her desk trying to finish a research paper. Recently, the political situation had developed quickly, and in some respects unpredictably. The Nazi party had taken power in Germany, and Irene and Frederic had been amongst those French intellectuals who co-founded an anti-fascist movement in Paris. Despite her political engagements, they had also been very active in their scientific research. This was the reason why Irene had to stay at her desk working on the paper instead of going into the laboratory where she would usually be at this time of the day. Out of the blue, the doorbell rang, and while she was still wondering who could be visiting so early in the day, the bell rang again. It must be urgent, and a bad feeling overcame Irene as she rushed to the door. When she opened it, there stood a man in a uniform who said: "I have a telegram for Frederic and Irene Joliot-Curie – it is from the Swedish Academy of Science." Irene held her breath, and at the same time, several thoughts flashed through her mind, thoughts that started with those stories her mother had told her. ...

The Telegram

05/05/2021 201 KB (PDF)

Full Story


Biographies and historical background

Filename Date Size / type
Historical background: Atoms 05/05/2021 212 KB (PDF)
Biography: Jolio Curie 05/05/2021 615 KB (PDF)

Storytelling Resources

Educational Resources

Filename Date Size / type
Suggestions to Teachers 05/05/2021 193 KB (PDF)
Student’s Learning Activities 05/05/2021 221 KB (PDF)

Historical Resources

A Primary Sources, French

Joliot-Curie, Irène/Joliot-Curie, Frédéric: L’existence du neutron: la projection de noyaux atomiques par un rayonnement très pénétrant, Paris 1932.
Joliot-Curie, Irène et. al.: Physique nucléaire: un nouveau type de radioactivité : note, Paris 1934.
Joliot-Curie, Irène/Joliot-Curie, Frédéric: L’électron positif,, Paris 1934.
Joliot-Curie, Irène/Joliot-Curie, Frédéric: Radioactivité artificielle, Paris 1935.

B Primary Sources, English

Joliot-Curie, Irène/Joliot-Curie, Frédéric: New Evidence for the Neutron, London 1932.
Joliot-Curie, Frédéric/Joliot-Curie, Irène: Artificial Production of a New Kind of Radio-Element, London 1934.
Joliot-Curie, Frédéric: Nobel Lecture: Chemical Evidence of the Transmutation of Elements, Stockholm 12.12.1935, online available:
Joliot-Curie, Irène: Nobel Lecture: Artificial Production of Radioactive Elements, Stockholm 12.12.1935, online available:
Joliot-Curie, Frédéric et. al.: Scientists and Intellectuals Address all Peace Lovers, Paris 1950.

C Secondary Sources, English and French

Biquard, Pierre: Frédéric Joliot-Curie; the Man and his Theories., New York 1966.
Biquard, Pierre: Frédéric Joliot-Curie et l’énergie atomique, Paris u.a. 2003.
Brian, Denis: The Curies: A Biography of the most Controversial Family in Science, Hoboken, NJ 2005.
Goldsmith, Maurice: Frédéric Joliot-Curie: A Biography, London 1976.
McKown, Robin: She Lived for Science; Irène Joliot-Curie., New York 1961.
Pinault, Michel: Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Paris 2000.

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Story and all resources 1 MB (ZIP)