Madam President, dear Anna Komorowska,Rector,Ministers,Deputy Mayor of Paris,Ladies and Gentlemen,

Closing ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the award
Nobel Prize in Chemistry by Marie Skłodowska Curie, is coming to share with
in one of these great temples of knowledge,
the Sorbonne, which still resonates from the words of men of science that
you are.

What does a Minister of Culture and
Presentation to an illustrious assembly of scientists, chemists and
engineers, physics and medical scientists,
come to pay tribute, with all the necessary knowledge, to one of the most
great figures of physics and chemistry of the twentieth century? If I
join you today, it’s because it’s in my eyes, and in my eyes
of course the President of the Republic, who granted his high patronage
at this event alongside that of the President of the
Poland, a celebration of the highest order. That of a history
of a European woman, a major figure in the
our scientific culture, the woman with the two Nobel Prizes, a look and a
courage too, which teaches us what guardianship means.

There are many ways to commemorate Marie Curie. Her presence
of the most diverse opinion polls on large
French personalities, the transfer of his ashes to the Pantheon on 20
April 1995, in the presence of the French President, Polish President Lech
Walesa and Eve Curie his daughter, the name given to one of our most
prestigious universities in Paris, or the moving Curie museum
of Ulm Street - all this shows the place it occupies, legitimately,
in our collective culture and in our national memory. But for
I am also his presence in Gamla Stan, in the heart of Stockholm,
at the Nobel Museum, the look of his photos, the memory of his speech at the
Banquet of 1911, the modesty that was then his when, receiving
this international tribute, she dedicated it to Pierre Curie, her husband, her
partner in all things, disappeared 5 years earlier.

Marie, it is this woman who has fostered several upheavals
in our understanding of society. From this “revolution
Copernican" - the word is not chosen by chance - carried by this
modest girl from Warsaw landed in Paris in 1891, speaking a
I would like to focus on two aspects.
The first, of course, is the prodigious scientific advance
his work. First received at the physics aggregation in 1896, his
qualities of researcher were consecrated as early as 1903 with its first prize
Nobel, the one she gets in physics with her husband Pierre Curie and Henri
Becquerel, for their research on radiation, before seeing his
discovery of radium and polonium receive the award, personal this time,
that we celebrate today.

First winner of two Nobel Prizes, Marie rubs shoulders with Albert Einstein,
Max Planck and Ernest Rutherford. The great beacons of
XXth meet frequently, and Mary is also at the center of
their exchanges. Mobilized during the First World War, she
shows the usefulness of scientific discoveries in improving care
X-ray of the injured. In the apocalypse of
in the face of what historian George Mosse calls the
“brutalization” of war violence, it contributes to the conception of
18 mobile surgical units nicknamed the «Small Curies». With
Marie Curie is a science that always appeals to conscience,
it is scientific knowledge always put at the service of the human.

But Marie Curie is also the exemplary figure of promotion, through the
knowledge and merit of women in our societies. During her youth
in Poland, she defies the ban on women
university, and joined the Flying University, then illegal. Once in Paris,
in 1906, she became the first woman to teach here, at the
Sorbonne. She is also the only woman to participate in the
1911. Ten years later, during her trip to the United States, she bought a
gram of radium for $100,000 through an organized collection
by journalist Marie Mattingly Meloney with American women.
Marie Curie is remembered as the woman of science, who manages to isolate the
radium and plutonium, the one that exchanges with top researchers
and the greatest scientists, the one who carries so high the torch of
But she was also a woman of combat, the symbol of a
the traumatic experience of women’s
Great War, front and back.

Allow me to add a personal touch to this tribute.
In 1934, my grandmother was also a patient of the sanatorium of
Sancellemoz, where Marie Curie died. From the bourgeoisie
for which the woman had first of all to keep a home,
to make children and to educate them, it was a priori hardly permeable
the ideas that a figure like Mary could represent. And yet,
when Marie Curie came to Sancellemoz to occupy the room next to the
she wrote to my mother, then 14 years old, a whole letter on
the emotion and pride that this illustrious arrival caused in her, on
the importance of the values that Marie Curie embodied. This letter, I
it is always marked by the precious trace of this ray of

Marie Curie was a pioneer in many ways: she was a figure of the 20th century
century, it remains a model for the 21st century. Celebrating the
his second Nobel is also to remember his life and his successes
scientists, but still, of course, personal commitments. Woman
of science, Maria Sklodowska was also a woman jealous by
some, a woman who struggled with gossip and crossed the
trials. Nothing was spared to this lady in black of physics, to this
a frail figure that concealed admirable generosity and intelligence

At the other end of the history of atom and radioactivity, at a time when the
risks of the spread of nuclear weapons still feed so many
legitimate fears, at a time of global concern over the emergency
public policies of culture also have a role to
play: to help restore the pact of trust between science
and citizens. Cultural institutions, museums, associations
working for a better scientific and technical culture
are decisive in this regard. The role of Universcience, true head
network and educational tool on science and its issues, participates in
this ambition. I hope that on the occasion of this Year of Chemistry and
the anniversary of this Nobel Prize, we are all able to
promote the educational imperative and the intelligence of the past, without which
the celebration would be only a vain word, but also the ethics of the
responsibility that animated Marie Curie throughout her luminous life.

Thank you.