Atomic Energy in Medicine

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The atomic bomb has demonstrated to the world in a dramatic fashion that great energies are stored up in atoms and that these energies can be liberated in many forms, such as mechanical, heat, light, ultraviolet radiation, roentgen rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and other subatomic particles. The demonstration of this destructive weapon has kindled in men the desire to use these energies for peaceful pursuits. Among these men the physician ranks first. He believes that the release of controlled atomic energy,1 notably in the form of radiation, will widen his knowledge of the value of various types of radiant energy in diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Although many voices state that a new era, which should be measured in terms of atomic years, began with the year of the destruction of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the physician knows that the science of atomic physics extends over the last fifty years and that the fundamental principle of atomic fission in particular, upon which the atomic bomb is based, was known before the start of the second World War. The technologic advance in the development of this principle to the point of controlled release of vast amounts of atomic energy is an important accomplishment. It has led to the production of large amounts and a great variety of radioactive materials. But at present only relatively few new radioactive substances or isotopes, such as radio-sodium, radio-carbon, radio-phosphorus, or radio-iodine, are available to the medical profession; they are used for so-called tracer studies as well as. . .



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