Marie Curie Has Been Declared the Most Influential Woman in History

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Marie Curie is famous as a history-making chemist, physicist, and two-time Nobel Prize winner. Now she's been given another title: the most influential woman of all time, according to BBC History Magazine.

Curie holds the No.1 spot on the list of 100 significant women that will be appearing in the magazine in honor of the centennial of women's suffrage in the UK. The 100 female figures were nominated by 10 experts, each representing a different field of human endeavor. BBC History readers then voted on the list to determine ranking.

The Polish physicist blazed trails at the turn of the 20th century. She discovered two new elements, radium and polonium; coined the term radioactivity; and developed a portable x-ray machine to help treat soldiers during World War II. And her achievements aren't merely monumental because she was a woman. When she brought home her second Nobel Prize, she became the first person of any gender to win the award twice. To this day, she remains the only person, man or woman, to receive Nobel Prizes for two different sciences (physics and chemistry).

Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science and Curie's nominator, told BBC History, "The odds were always stacked against her. In Poland her patriotic family suffered under a Russian regime. In France she was regarded with suspicion as a foreigner—and of course, wherever she went, she was discriminated against as a woman."

Curie is joined on the list by a host of iconic women who have shaped the trajectories of politics, literature, activism, and more. Ranking No.2 is Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who launched a movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and Amelia Earhart, the famed aviator, also appear high on the list.

You can check out the full round-up on BBC History's website.

[h/t BBC History]

Can You Guess the President's Middle Name?

9 Other Things That Happened on July 4

iStock/LPETTET
iStock/LPETTET

Of course we know that July 4 is Independence Day in the U.S. But lots of other things have happened on that date as well. Here are just a few of them:

1. Three former presidents died.

On July 4, 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson—America's second and third presidents, respectively—both passed away. The two politicians had a love-hate relationship, and Adams's last words were supposedly, "Thomas Jefferson survives." (He didn't know that Jefferson had passed away a few hours earlier.) Exactly five years later, on July 4, 1831, fifth U.S. President James Monroe died in New York City.

2. Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond.

On July 4, 1845, Henry David Thoreau began his two-year living experiment at Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts.

3. Alice Liddell first heard the story of Alice in Wonderland.

On July 4, 1862, little Alice Liddell listened to a story told by Lewis Carroll during a boat trip on the Thames ... it would later become, of course, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It was published exactly three years later—on July 4, 1865.

4. Two famous advice columnists were born.

On July 4, 1918, twin sisters Esther Pauline and Pauline Esther Friedman were born. Today they're better known as Ann Landers and Dear Abby.

5. George Steinbrenner came into the world.

On July 4, 1930, future Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was born (and presumably fired the doctor immediately).

6. Lou Gehrig delivered his retirement speech.

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig gave his famous retirement speech at Yankee Stadium after being diagnosed with ALS. He tells the crowd that he considers himself "the luckiest man on the face of the earth."

7. The Zodiac Killer killed for the first time. (As far as we know.)

On July 4, 1968, the Zodiac Killer murdered his first victims (that we know of) at Lake Herman Road in Benicia, California.

8. Koko was born.

On July 4, 1971, Koko, the sign-language gorilla, was born.

9. Bob Ross passed away.

On July 4, 1995, Bob Ross died, and all over the world, Happy Little Trees were a little less happy.

This list first ran in 2008 and was updated for 2019.

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