Marie Curie, love and radioactivity

"The powers of the radium they had fallen in love with were corroding their bones, damaging their lungs, burning their skin." The radioactivity that had given immortality to

The Paper Sphere

One of the pages of 'Radioactive', the book by Lauren Redniss. EDITORIAL STANDARD

Lauren Redniss brings to the comic the love of the Curie couple and their lethal research with polonium in a graphic story that will be adapted to the cinema by Marjane Satrapi, author of 'Persepolis'

"The radio powers they had fallen in love with were corroding their bones, damaging their lungs, burning their skin, the radioactivity that had granted immortality to the Curies was now killing them." This emulsion of science and passionate love is the letter of presentation of Radioactivo (Norma Editorial), one of the graphic novels of the season that will enjoy a long period of validity, since it is the work on which Marjane Satrapi's next film is based . The cartoonist and Franco-Iranian director, author of the famous Persepolis , is in full shooting, and as an outpost arrives at our bookstores on February 22 the graphic novel signed by Lauren Redniss.

Redniss is the author of three informative graphic novels; the first one includes the biography of Doris Eaton, actress of the Ziegfeld Follies , and the last one titled Thunder and Lightning , deals with the influence of meteorology in our daily decisions. In between, Radioactive published, a story that fuses the romance of the marriage of scientists Pierre and Marie Curie with the discovery of polonium and radio . The protagonist is Marie Curie, whose childhood and youth are revealed, the meeting with Pierre, his close collaboration, and the evolution of his life once widowed, in struggle with public opinion and with a health mediated by contact with the radio.

Science and romantic love are the driving threads of a graphic novel that is the paradigm of a genre in vogue: sentimentalized scientific dissemination. Radioactive begins with the following sentence of the author: "My apologies to Marie Curie who said: 'There is no relationship between my work as a scientist and my private life'". Redniss apologizes, but pulls forward with his biographical-scientific-sentimental experiment . And not only her.

In cinema and literature, we witness frequent processes of humanization of scientific personalities. Einstein, Tesla or Feynman (on whose figure there is an interesting graphic novel also published by Norma) show us an accessible path through which to introduce ourselves into the unknown personality of genius. In these stories, the biographical anecdote usually overcomes the scientific achievement. How many of the numerous Tesla fans can explain what an induction motor is? What they are sure of is informed of their eccentricities or their fondness for the game. The humanization of scientific discourses has two sides; On the one hand, it rescues from the waters of oblivion figures of enormous intellectual value and makes us connect with them from the sensitivity and contemporary worries. On the other hand, it is also an act of rereading with enough risks of subjectivization. Reinterpreting the plot of affection for Curie marriage, but also thinkers like Stefan Zweig, Jung or Lou Andreas-Salomé, is a slippery terrain that can make us fall down the slope of the hero or the sentimental heroine .

It is difficult to find the balance between science, disclosure and entertainment. In Radioactive , Redniss finds it providing a tragic argument that underlies the plot, which refers to the mismanagement that humanity has made of the discoveries of the marriage in love. "The radio could be very dangerous in the hands of criminals, and here we could ask ourselves if it is good for humanity to know the secrets of nature." The discovery of Nobel dynamite is a good example ", Pierre Curie would reflect in 1903. graphic novel, Redniss provides testimonies and documents on the tragedy of the Hiroshima bomb , on the existence of mutant vegetation in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant, and on other horrors that are the fatal derivation of the criminal use of luminous scientific findings.

Radioactive crisscrosses text, loose drawing and color spots. Redniss has made some pages in blueprint, a photographic process that involves chemical processes and insolation. However, the author achieves an evocative graphic style that generates a passionate and dark atmosphere in which small charges of emotional dynamite detonate. Most of the metaphors of the graphic novel are based on light and phosphorescence, weaving continuous parallelisms between the feeling of love and the glow of the chemical elements. Radioactive finally proves to be a good experiment because it manages to unite two invisible and opposite forces: love and radioactivity.

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