The many action figure faces of Marie Curie
All of this has been unintentional. Marie Curie is not by any means a glamorous, exciting figure in the history of science. She wasn't eccentric and mysterious like Tesla. She didn't have a gold nose like Tycho Brahe. She wasn't lusted after by Marilyn Monroe like Albert Einstein. And she wasn't a massive brain in a wheelchair who had an affair with his nurse like Stephen Hawking.
Marie won two Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry. She pioneered research in radiation and radioactivity. She was married to Pierre Curie, who also won a Nobel prize in physics. They had a daughter. Both died from the complications from radiation poisoning. Her notebooks and equipment are too radioactive to touch for the next 1500 years. She had held radium in her bare hands.
She was a scientist, a scholar, a teacher and a researcher. Superhero glamor wasn't her thing. Nor should it be.
I relate to this. Anyone who was an intellectual throughout their academic life can understand the divide between the socially fluent and the socially isolated.
Her radioactive journals touched me he'd me when I was in high school. They are dangerous to us. She lived with them for years. How can this not seem like a superpower.
She died from complications of radiation. Thus she becomes a martyr, even a saint of science.
And two Nobel prizes, one more than her husband. Growing up believing women were incapable of being better than men at anything, much less science, this was extraordinary.
So who is my Marie?
For me Marie is the polished, confident, exotic academic I romanticize about. As much as I try to deny it, I am a romantic.
Marie has also become the depository for all of my erotic problems, sexual orientation, adventures, and anxieties. She has had my relationships, expressed my worries and makes choices which aren't wise, but sexy.
All the the while, her radioactivity has manifested itself in startling ways. As a hero in a 1950s sci fi epic, the radiation in her body has given her special powers. She can emit and control heat, move objects and fly. In the sequel, her powers grow.
I feel I must conclude with an awkward apology. I abhor the stereotypical sexiness, the common hotness of female characters. Yet when I write, I do no differently. My only reason for doing this is to tap into the universal sexiness that is common today. I wish to speak to as many people as possible.
I wish to to give a fantasy to as many people as possible: that we are as erotic as we hope we are.
We live through Marie, and as we do we are so much more exciting and sexy than we think we are.
Because, in actuality, we are.