Hélène Langevin-Joliot: ‘Indispensable science together with peace to challenge ecological transition’

The granddaughter of Pierre and Marie Curie explains it to the students of the Milanese high schools

Dozens of high school students, from “Manzoni” to “Marconi”, had today the opportunity to have a truly exceptional meeting: the conference room of Palazzo Reale in Milan welcomed the French physicist Hélène Langevin-Joliot, nephew of Pierre and Marie Curie. ”Science and Peace – you said – are two indispensable elements for responding to the great challenge that today constitutes an increasingly urgent ecological transition throughout the world”. The aim of this unique event, organized by the Bracco Foundation in collaboration with the Municipality of Milan, was to make young people fall in love with science, thanks to a testimony from which to draw inspiration. Indeed, the Curie-Joliot family has received six Nobel Prizes, five for Science and one for Peace.

The importance of this event was underlined by the intervention of the Consul General of France in Milan HE Monsieur François Revardeaux, and by the contribution that the Minister of Education and Italian Merit Giuseppe Valditara sent from Rome: “Initiatives like today’s ”, said the Minister, “they represent an important contribution to training and guidance as virtuous models are indispensable in order to be able to make informed choices for the future. STEM careers need an increase in the presence of women by overcoming obsolete stereotypes”.

Diana Bracco to the youngest: ‘Never accept the prejudice of women less suitable for technical-scientific studies and related professions’

Diana Bracco, President of the Bracco Foundation, has launched an appeal to the youngest: “Never accept the prejudice that would hold women less suited to technical-scientific studies and related professions. Earn your place in society with confidence, courage, tenacity and generosity. After all, I am deeply convinced that women throughout the world are an engine of progress and peace. Hélène’s family is concrete proof that women can be formidable, in science as in life”, added Diana Bracco, “Not only Hélène Langevin-Joliot Curie’s grandmother, but also her mother Irène Joliot-Curie won with the husband a Nobel for chemistry. Marie Curie is a figure of scientist and exemplary woman, a heroine who can inspire many young researchers, and who has been a point of reference for me. Two-time Nobel Prize winner, tenacious and generous scientist, Marie Curie established radiology and diagnostic imaging as an essential branch of medical research. A technologically advanced Life Sciences sector that helps millions of people through prevention, and in which our company, founded in 1927, has managed to become a global leader with over 3,600 employees and a turnover of 1.7 billion euros”.

“The testimony of Hélène Langevin Joliot, granddaughter of Pierre and Marie Curie, will be a precious opportunity for girls and boys to learn about the story of a woman of great talent and passion for science”, declared the Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Education Anna Scavuzzo. “I thank the Bracco Foundation which made this meeting possible, once again renewing its commitment to the promotion of scientific culture, the study of STEM subjects, and the protagonism, including women, in science and research. Being able to involve students in meetings and testimonials allows them to live experiences that are inspiring and that open up new horizons for their future, going beyond stereotypes that must be overcome thanks to initiatives like this”.

Bracco Foundation initiative to encourage the scientific careers of young women

Langevin-Joliot is part of an exceptional family. Her maternal grandparents were Marie and Pierre Curie, famous for their studies of radioactivity, for which they won a Nobel Prize in Physics (with Antoine Henri Becquerel) in 1903. Marie Curie was also the first person to win the Nobel Prize in two different fields, having won a second for chemistry in 1911 with his discoveries of radium and polonium. Similarly, Hélène’s parents – Irène Curie and Frédérique Joliot – won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity, and were later among the founders of France’s National Research Centre, the CNRS. Finally, Eve Curie, the second child of Marie and Pierre, aunt of Hélène, was one of the first women diplomats, and her work for the United Nations Children’s Organization earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 (together with UNICEF).

Hélène decided as a child to be a physicist like her grandparents, starting her first experiments together with the legendary Marie. And today she returns to Italy, exactly 105 years after her grandmother, who visited our country for the first time in 1918. The Bracco Foundation has organized this initiative which is part of the proposals supported to encourage the scientific careers of young men and women and raise awareness a family history of extraordinary interest in the ethical and social values ​​that accompany STEM professions.

The event moderated by Paola Antolini, Anthropologist, United Nations International University of Peace was also attended by: Yves Langevin, Planetologist, Institute of Space Astrophysics, IAS, Orsay-Paris, France; Alessandra Guglielmetti, University of Milan; Maddalena Collini, University of Milano-Bicocca and Patrizia Caraveo, Astrophysicist, #100 STEM expert and Research Director of the National Institute of Astrophysics, INAF.

At the end of the meeting, which was followed in streaming by hundreds of students and researchers, a bush of Marie Curie roses (edited by Orticola) was planted in the courtyard of the Royal Palace, with a commemorative plaque.