They say that the experience of love is a heritage shared by all human beings. The history of scientific thought is no stranger to this statement. There are several romantic pages between recognized protagonists of science that exerted an influence, enrichment and mutual motivation, not only on a personal level but also intellectually. Their works, carried out as a team, are fundamental pillars for modern science.
In this note, from UNQ scientific news agencywe review the life and work of heThe Curies, the Lavoisiers, the Coris and the Mosers: protagonists of these curious love stories, where meticulous research and precise documentation join the bedroom. And, almost all of them, with a Nobel Prize between the sheets.
The first great duo emerged in the middle of the 18th century. It was that of Marie-Anne Pierrette and her husband Antoine Lavoisier, known as the fathers of modern chemistry.. They married in 1771 and took advantage of the dowry of the young woman, who was then 13 years old, to establish a well-equipped laboratory where she began her studies. Among other things, Marie-Anne worked alongside her husband, recording observations and drawing diagrams of her experimental designs, which was very helpful in understanding Antoine’s methods and results.
So they both discovered the key role of oxygen in the combustion and respiration of animals and plants. In addition, with their experiments they proved the Law of Conservation of matter —according to which the amount of matter is always the same at the end and at the beginning of a reaction— and discovered that water is composed of oxygen and hydrogen. If the Nobel Prize had existed back then, they might have won it.
Pierre and Marie Curie: a radioactive love
The passion that united Pierre Curie and the student Marie Skłodowska It was the most radioactive in history. Rarely are two lives as deeply identified as those of this couple. The Curies’ story had it all: romanticism, idealism, sacrifice, and tragedy. When Marie met Pierre, she had already been living in Paris for three years and studying at the Sorbonne. In 1894, when the researcher asked her to marry him, they had been working together in her laboratory for more than a year. They were married in 1895 and continued their research in a poorly ventilated shed, unaware of the harmful effects that continued unprotected radiation exposure would have on them.
In 1898, the marriage announced the discovery of two new radioactive elements: polonium and radiumalthough they still had to spend four years working in precarious conditions to prove their existence. Finally, in 1903 they won the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Antoine Henri Becquerel, and Marie became the first woman to receive this award and which she won again in 1911 (alone) in Chemistry.
Gerty and Carl Cori, united by metabolism
Science, love, wisdom and an enormous curiosity about carbohydrate metabolism was what brought them together. Gerty Theresa Radnitz and Carl Ferdinand Cori they met at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Prague and married in 1920, when she finished her studies. Two years later, they ventured out of World War I-torn Europe and arrived at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, where they were able to specialize in carbohydrate metabolism research.
This Czech migrant couple was particularly interested in studying how glucose is metabolized in the human body and the hormones that regulate this process. In 1929, they proposed the Cori cycle with which later, in 1947, they won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. This cycle describes the mechanism by which glycogen, a derivative of glucose, is converted into an energy source in muscle tissue and then re-synthesized and stored in the body. This was a key mechanism for understanding how the body manages energy.
May-Britt and Edvard Moser: on the same path
The Norwegian marriage May-Britt and Edvard Moser discovered, together with John O’Keefe, the “internal GPS of the brain” that enables orientation in space. That discovery earned them to win, in 2014 the Medicine Nobel Prize. Thanks to his work, it is possible to understand the system by which the brain allows knowing where the human being is and is going, in addition to knowing how information is stored in order to remember the same path in the future.
The Mosers, who met when they were both studying psychology at the University of Oslo and married in 1985, took up the research that O’Keefe had carried out in 1971. The New Yorker had discovered the first components of this internal positioning system: cells of the hippocampus that allow spatial memory and orientation. Thirty years later, the couple discovered another key component: nerve cells that generated a coordinated system and that allowed precise positioning in space. After being awarded by the Swedish Academy, both scientists (who had two daughters and divorced in 2016) continued their careers separately.
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Love, sex and test tubes: the most famous marriages in science | Life and work of memorable duos