The Role of the Geiger Counter in a Medical Institution

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GEIGER counters have aroused more interest in the minds of both professional and lay people than any other topic pertaining to atomic energy. A Geiger counter is an exceedingly sensitive apparatus for detecting and evaluating ionizing radiations such as x-rays, alpha, beta, and gamma rays of radium or radioactive isotopes, protons, deuterons or neutrons.

Many believe the Geiger counter is of recent origin and a product of the atomic age. That is not so. The principle of the Geiger counter was discovered decades before the first chain reacting atomic pile was successfully launched at Stagg Field of the University of Chicago, on December 2, 1942. Hans Geiger, a German physicist working with Rutherford at the University of Manchester in England, developed the first “electrical method of counting alpha particles” in 1908.1 In 1912 Geiger and Rutherford reported on an improved method which permitted the recording of 1000 alpha particles per minute. One year later Geiger constructed a counter for beta ray particles but it was not until 1928 that he, in collaboration with Walther Mueller, perfected the modern version of the tube for measuring all types of radiations. Therefore the Geiger counter is often now referred to as the Geiger-Mueller tube, although the principle of the new construction is the same as the original one.

Essentially the Geiger counter consists of a glass or metal tube filled with air or other combinations of gases at low pressure. Two insulated electrodes penetrate the wall of the tube and a critical electric. . .



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