How Did Marie Curie Take Notes? - Senstone

How Did Marie Curie Take Notes?

11 Apr, 2024

Marie Curie’s note-taking technique involved keeping separate journals for research and personal matters. Her lab notes are the most dangerous piece of writing in the world: due to continued exposure to radium and polonium, the paper will stay too radioactive to handle for the next 2,000 years.


On the flip side, the reckless experiments allowed her to win two Nobel Prizes in the span of eight years.

Marie Curie: Note Taking Gone Nuclear


Marie Curie was a very private person, and most of what we know about her life and note taking we owe to a biography written by her daughter Ève Curie. It’s titled “Madame Curie” and makes for a great read.


As for Curie’s note-taking habits, there are several things we know for sure.


First of all, Marie Curie kept her work notes separate from the personal journal, and her personal journal from the journal on her daughters’ development. This allowed her to focus on one thing at a time. Three journals allowed for three perspectives.


Curie would always write in a thick notebook and draw plenty of sketches (just like Thomas Edison). Interestingly, her physics notes were structured like a diary, or a school copybook. Each note was preceded by date. She numbered pages by hand.




(As radioactive as they are, some of Marie Curie’s notes have been digitized. You can find them here.)


Secondly, Marie Curie would use journaling as a method of self-reflection. When her husband Pierre died, she started a new diary, describing her mourning in a detached manner. According to Ève Curie, it helped her mother process the tragic event and stay productive at the laboratory.


Marie Curie’s routine was so strict she did not let herself rest unless said break had been scheduled beforehand. Judging from the way she talks about her journals, it is highly likely the note taking time was scheduled as well.

The Power of Genius


One thing that stands out about Marie Curie as a person is her ability to maintain laser focus. When she was a teenager, her siblings would challenge each other to distract Curie from her books. It never worked. Sometimes she would admit she didn’t hear the family talking to her.


When Curie moved to France to study physics and mathematics, she was so poor she had to ration her food. Again, she did not let the physical hardships distract her from pursuing science.


And through it all, she would keep a journal.


Dedication, unwavering focus, and firmly separating work from personal life: these are the main lessons we can learn from Marie Curie’s note-taking techniques and productivity secrets. And as long as we do not carry radioactive material in our pockets like Curie did, we should be fine.


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