Until this day it would not be safe to read Marie Curie's notebook - not because of the ideas in it but because of the amount of radiation still emitted by it. Marie Curie died of radioactivity, the very phenomenon that she studied and made her great scientific advances in.
In the history of science we find many examples of scientists who used their own bodies for their experiments, take Benjamin Franklin for example, flying a kite during a thunder storm to prove lightning as an electrical phenomenon. Isaac Newton stared at the sun, until he almost lost his eyesight. When we look at cases like that of Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, who tested the effects of mercury not only on hundreds of people but also on himself, we come to think that there is something puzzling at work in the minds of these people.
The relevant structures involved in these cases are science and personal health.
Did Curie know, that her subject matter was deadly?
Did Curie know, that her subject matter was deadly? If she had known would she have continued with her research? Did these people ever stop to think they might be putting themselves at great danger? Or is there a direct link between question and experiment? Is the drive to know so strong in the scientist that the drive for selfpreservation is overruled?
Is it really about science?
We cannot help but feel awe when looking at the unselfishness of these great minds.
This is what makes these cases so fascinating and probably what makes great scientists so rare. We cannot help but feel awe when looking at their dedication. Still the question from an ethical point of view remains in the individual cases: Do these scientists have the greater good in mind when giving up their health, or are they simply overly curious?