DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
3Dr. Arthur Compton of the University of Chicago headed a National Academy of Sciences committee that in May 1941 recommended to Dr, Vannevar Bush, head of the National Defense Research Committee, that nuclear research be pursued as part of the national defense effort for several purposes, including development of an atomic bomb. In the summer of 1941, Bush instructed Compton to assess technical questions related to critical mass and destructive capability and verify a British conclusion that development of a uranium bomb that could be dropped from existing aircraft was feasible within two years. On November 6, 1941, Compton reported a conclusion less sanguine than that of the British but still confirming the feasibility of an atomic weapon deliverable by aircraft. Early in 1942, as part of the emerging effort to develop an atomic bomb, Bush appointed Compton to be one of three program chiefs with responsibility to run chain reactions and develop weapons theory. As a result, under Arthur Compton, the Metallurgical Laboratory at the University of Chicago became a critical research facility for the Manhattan Project.
7For the transcript of the interview with Gamertsfelder, see DOE/EH-0467, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Carl C. Gamertsfelder, Ph.D. (scheduled to be published later in 1995).
16Dr. Leo Szilard (18981964) was a Hungarian-born American physicist who with Walter Zinn proved the possibility of self-sustaining nuclear fission in1939 at Columbia University. At the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory with Enrico Fermi, Szilard determined the amount, configuration, and means to control uranium fuel and directed the first nuclear chain reaction, December 2, 1942. He remained at the Metallurgical Lab until 1946, when he returned to his university position and concentrated on research in molecular biology.
23a professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, site of research involving plutonium and human subjects. Dr. Warren worked on the Manhattan Project and headed an Intramedical Advisory Committee.
24For the transcript of the interview with Friedell, see DOE/EH-0466, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Hymer L. Friedell, Ph.D. (scheduled to be published later in 1995).
25Joseph Hamilton, an M.D., worked at Crocker Laboratory, then the site of a 60-inch cyclotron that he operated to produce radioisotopes in support of research and some medical diagnosis and treatment. Crocker was part of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, later renamed Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, located at the University of California at Berkeley. Hamilton is discussed in several transcripts of this series, notably in the interviews with John Gofman (DOE/EH-0457, June 1995) and Earl Miller (DOE/EH-0474, June 1995). Hamilton spent most of his career at the Laboratory before dying prematurely of leukemia brought on, colleagues believe, by occupational exposure to radiation.
26Dr. Paul Aebersold established the administrative system for distribution of radioactive isotopes. After working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from 1942 to 1946, he served as director of the Atomic Energy Commission's Isotopes Division at Oak Ridge from 1947 to 1957. He retired as the Director of the AEC's Office of Isotopes Development in 1965. Two-and-a-half years later, he committed suicide. For additional information on Dr. Aebersold, see "Safety of the Nuclear Industry" in the interview with Merril Eisenbud (DOE/EH-0456, May 1995) and "Remembrances of Personalities" in the interview with Earl Miller (DOE/EH-0474, June 1995).
30After the interview, Morgan submitted the following clarification: "Insofar as I can determine, I published the first paper in the open literature showing how to calculate permissible levels of exposure to radionuclides (Morgan, K.Z., ?Tolerance Concentration of Radioactive Substances,' J. Physical & Colloid Chemistry, 51, p. 984). All my previous publications were on cosmic radiation and on the meson, the fourth basic particle of matter. Now there were known four basic particles: the electron, the proton, the neutron, and the meson. All were published in the Physical Review (Vol. 52, No. 6, Sept. 1937; Vol. 54., No. 4, Aug. 15, 1938; Vol. 56, No. 11, June 1939; and, Vol. 57, No. 2, Jan. 15, 1940). These publications were [written] jointly with W.M. Nielsen and L.W. Nordheim of Duke University."
33Morgan adds: "Our first studies on body fluid analysis were conducted by Ralph Firmanack and Larry Farabee. They developed the early methods of determining uranium, plutonium, and strontium (238U, 239Pu, and 89Sr and 90Sr) in urinal feces, among other research."
36For the transcript of the interview with Lushbaugh, see DOE/EH-0453, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D. (April 1995).
37Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, established in 1946 by the Manhattan Engineer District and operated under a Manhattan Project (and later Atomic Energy Commission) contract. ORINS was responsible for training physicians and researchers in the safe handling of radioisotopes and in the development of isotope applications in medicine. In addition, ORINS was responsible for selecting both students and established scientists for fellowships and other temporary research assignments. Today, the educational and training functions of ORINS are carried out by its successor, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).
40The first British production reactors went into operation in 195051 in Windscale, England on the Irish Sea. In October 1957, an incident occurred at Reactor Number One which resulted in the release of excessive amounts of radioiodine and other radioisotopes to the environment. Use of milk from local farms was discovered to pose the greatest radiological health hazard to the local community.
41The Idaho Falls National Laboratory accident, SL-1, was a reactor accident that resulted in the death of three workers. For an extended discussion of the SL-1 reactor accident, see "Fatal Worker Accident at Idaho's SL-1 Reactor (1961)" in DOE/EH-0454, Remembering the Early Years: Interview With Dr. George Voelz, M.D. (May 1995).
48Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representative, 97th Congress, First Session, September 23, 1981, No. 63: Human Total Body Irradiation (TBI) Program at Oak Ridge, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington: 1982.
50Sipe worked with Lushbaugh at Oak Ridge in the 1960s, serving as the day-to-day manager of the Low-Exposure-Rate Total Body Irradiator (LETBI). She was present during the Lushbaugh interview; her comments are found throughout that transcript (DOE/EH-0453). In that interview, Lushbaugh and Sipe vigorously challenge charges that their therapeutic radioisotope treatments were unethical.
51For the transcript of the interview with Vodopick, see DOE/EH-0482, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Helen Vodopick, M.D. (August 1995).
60For more on the Green Run Experiment, with an emphasis on its military purpose and the involvement of the U.S. Air Force, see DOE/EH-0455, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of John W. Healy (May 1995).
66Photographic film manufactures strive to create silver iodide crystals that are flat and disklike, to expose more surface area to light. In the same way, Morgan and his group hoped to develop disklike metal particles, whose ample surface area would trap more iodine, which would fall to the chamber floor, fixed to the metal disks, where it could be safety disposed of.
69In August 1949, the Soviet Union detonated a nuclear device that U.S. authorities subsequently coined "Little Joe." The United States responded in part by deciding in 1950 to advance to the next generation of thermonuclear weapons, fueling the country's need for tritium. Little Joe also necessitated the creation of a monitoring program to determine the design of other countries' nuclear weapons by analyzing the content of radionuclides present in fallout from their weapons' tests.
71Since the area of a circle is r2, the area increases as the square of the radius. Hence, by doubling the release-pointtopasture distance from 5 miles to 10, the crew could have spread the fallout over 314 square miles (3.14 × 100) instead of 79 (3.14 × 25), effectively diluting by 75 percent the dose reaching the cows.
73Morgan adds: "This visitor from the UK has sent me reports showing the present MPC values of tritium, 3H, are too high by at least a factor of five. This visitor is Ian Fairline from St. Bartholomew's Medical College."
76the branch of medicine dealing with the statistics of incidence and prevalence of disease in large populations and with detection of the source and cause of epidemics; also: the factors contributing to the presence of absence of a disease
81Morgan adds: "I have the highest admiration for your Secretary O'Leary for the brave stand of openness and honesty she has taken, but I have a sense of uneasiness. I testified in the Karen Silkwood case and know of these heroic women who have suffered the same fate as Karen. I fear she has a bear by the tail."
83pressurized water reactorone of the two kinds of light-water reactors used in virtually all domestic commercial nuclear reactors. Actually, U.S. Navy submarines rely chiefly on the other kind: boiling water reactors (BWRs).