Of course, if she did patent it her next problem would be to live long enough to collect any royalties on it.
@maggiekb I really like your science articles but in this case I'm not fond of you jumping on the editorialized headline bandwagon.
I'm not exactly sure how this is editorializing. Marie Curie was out ahead of a current trend in science/tech where people are talking about making scientific information available broadly. I think it's pretty factual to say that she was a pioneer of open source.
Radium! What can't it do? Makes crops glow like… sorry, GROW like crazy! Strawberries at the top, sunflowers at the bottom.
(image from http://www.gocomics.com/comic/explore/1418664/17#.U4tv0BaBQ84)
While I do agree with the nobility and selflessness of Mme. Marie's decision, I'd like to point out another (and slightly more proper) case of historical open source collaboration: Paris, c. 1900.
Several engineers like Léon Levavasseur, Louis Blériot and the Voisin brothers (among several others) where involved in a highly competitive yet fairly collaborative effort to make the first heavier-than-air airplane. One product of that era is the Demoiselle, released by its creator Alberto Santos-Dumont to the public domain since he believed that 'aviation would be the mainstream of a new prosperous era for mankind'.
(Interestingly enough, a few years later, the Wright Brothers started what later would be called the Patent Wars. Quoting Wikipedia: "The Wrights' preoccupation with the legal issue hindered their development of new aircraft designs, and by 1910 Wright aircraft were inferior to those made by other firms in Europe. Indeed, aviation development in the U.S. was suppressed to such an extent that when the country entered World War I no acceptable American-designed aircraft were available, and U.S. forces were compelled to use French machines.")
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