Romance of Radium – How did our relationship with radioactive material sour?

Note – This post was initially published on February 23, 2013. After attending the ANS President’s Special Session about the way we should communicate about radiation, I thought it would be worth repeating.

Sometimes, we need to look outside of our immediate time and place to find “best practices” that we should emulate.

Hitting road now for the final leg of my return to Virginia. Lots more to tell about the meeting and the trip.


My lovely wife, knowing my atomic energy obsession, thought that I might enjoy watching Romance of Radium a 1937 movie short (10 minutes) from MGM Studios that TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is occasionally running to fill time between full length movies.

It was utterly fascinating to me to watch how the filmmaker portrayed Henry Becquerel’s discovery of radiation, the Curie’s effort to refine radium, and the way that hunters in the Belgian Congo discovered one of the world’s richest sources of pitchblende because it was known to the local inhabitants as a soil with remarkable curative powers. This film was so well received that it earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film (one reel).

Watching this film through the lenses of a nuclear energy professional who has spent decades being taught that it is worthwhile to use precious resources to reduce radiation exposure to a level as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) – with an unreachable goal of zero – it is interesting to think about the way irrational radiation phobia has developed over the last 3/4 of a century. It is almost unimaginable that society has moved away from widespread recognition that radioactive substances are highly beneficial if treated with the proper care and respect to a widespread response of fear and trembling at tiny doses of ionizing radiation.

There are some hints in the movie about how the fears developed; the writers could not resist using phrases like “extremely dangerous” or pointing out how some people who were exposed to large doses due to ignorance of the side effects suffered negative health consequences. However, the movie provides abundance evidence that by 1937, about four decades after Becquerel’s discovery, people had learned to avoid the risks well enough to take full advantage of the benefits associated with the intense radiation that naturally emanates from tiny quantities of radium.

Radium glow finale

Radium glow finale

The final scene in the movie provides some real food for thought. The last couple of minutes explain the precautions associated with moving a small vial of radium from its lead lined storage vault to a studio set up to capture an image of the glowing substance as a climatic shot for the movie. As the set up continues, it is quite a contrast to watch how the photographer dresses and shields himself in comparison to the way that the experienced scientist protects himself as he extracts the material from its storage containers to display for the camera.

Aside: My wife was the one who noticed and pointed out the contrast. She found it quite amusing to think about the difference between the nervous amateur and the calm professional. End Aside.

I imagine most of my colleagues and all of the people whose fear of radiation stokes their opposition to using nuclear energy would be surprised to learn that radium’s curative powers made it the world’a most valuable substance, with a value of $750,000 per ounce – in 1937 dollars. People who have been forced to leave their homes and businesses in the Fukushima prefecture, which were made slightly radioactive due to the presence of small quantities of cesium, should consider the implications of how Romance of Radium concludes with prediction that “centuries from now it will still shine upon some future civilization, saving through the ages countless thousands of human lives.

Is impossible for anyone to characterize this information-filled work of cinematic art as propaganda produced by a powerful nuclear energy industry. There was no nuclear energy industry in 1937; the film was made a year before the basic process of fission had even been discovered in the laboratory. The primary reason there was a commercial interest in radium was that it demonstrated the ability to provide positive health benefits by curing infection, and increasing the strength of our ability to combat illness through what is now understood to be a biological mechanism called adaptive response.

Here is a homework assignment for some of the more mathematically oriented radiation professionals out there. I think there is enough information provided to produce a rough dose estimate for some of the example exposures in the film – like Becquerel’s habit of carrying a vial of radium in his coat pocket. It would be interesting to compare some of those doses against current regulatory limits or against the ALARA “best practices” that result in enormous expenditures to reduce exposures as measured in the discredited collective dose unit of “man-rem”.

PS – I am also interested in finding a better copy of the film than the one that I embedded for this post. It should be in the public domain; it is 76 years old.

About Rod Adams

77 Responses to “Romance of Radium – How did our relationship with radioactive material sour?”

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  1. Daniel says:

    In a televised debate on national TV regarding the closure of Gentilly II in Québec, it was very funny to see the pro nuclear side represented by a 4 feet 2 inches old professor with a speech impediment while the anti nuclear side had a 6 foot 4 inches tall, 20 something verbal ignorant. At the end, the good side lost by lack of verbosity and prose.

    That being said, the issue of medical radio active isotope supplies came about. Interestingly, it was not argued by the green side that these isotopes had medical value. The issue was that these precious isotopes were generated by nuclear reactors. Of course the pro nuclear side provided no hints that these isotopes were not generated by civilian nuclear plants but specialized medical nuclear reactors. But why have someone competent represent the pro nuclear side in a national debate ?(Where is DV82XL when you need him ?!)

    The point made by the greens was that all those precious medical isotopes need no longer be produced in nuclear reactors but simply in superconducting super colliders (SSC) facilities.

    Is this true ? I do not think that all medical isotopes can be produced in a SSC …

    • DV82XL says:

      There are plenty of young and reasonably telegenic spokespeople working in the Canadian nuclear industry they could have called on to defend the nuclear side before they would have to turn to an old grizzled hobbyist like me. But of course the producers didn’t want a fair debate in the first place did they?

  2. mjd says:

    The symptom of the problem is the shear cost and un-manageability of the huge plants the industry is so in love with. The root cause is that after TMI, the “people” involved in the whole process never got a clue.

    From page 8 of the Kemeny Commission Report:
    “ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES
    Our investigation started out with an examination of the accident
    at Three Mile Island (TMI). This necessarily led us to look into the
    role played by the utility and its principal suppliers. With our
    in-depth investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), we
    gained a broader insight into the attitudes and practices that prevail
    in portions of the industry. However, we did not examine the industry
    in its totality.
    Popular discussions of nuclear power plants tend to concentrate on
    questions of equipment safety. Equipment can and should be improved to
    add further safety to nuclear power plants, and some of our recommendations
    deal with this subject. But as the evidence accumulated, it
    became clear that the fundamental problems are people-related problems
    and not equipment problems.
    When we say that the basic problems are people-related, we do not
    mean to limit this term to shortcomings of individual human
    beings — although those do exist. We mean more generally that our
    investigation has revealed problems with the “system” that manufactures,
    operates, and regulates nuclear power plants. There are structural
    problems in the various organizations, there are deficiencies in various
    processes, and there is a lack of communication among key individuals
    and groups.
    We are convinced that if the only problems were equipment problems,
    this Presidential Commission would never have been created. The
    equipment was sufficiently good that, except for human failures, the
    major accident at Three Mile Island would have been a minor incident.
    But, wherever we looked, we found problems with the human beings who
    operate the plant, with the management that runs the key organization,
    and with the agency that is charged with assuring the safety of nuclear
    power plants.”

    From page 25 of the Kemeny Commission report:
    Nevertheless, we feel that our findings and recommendations are of
    vital importance for the future of nuclear power. We are convinced
    that, unless portions of the industry and its regulatory agency undergo
    fundamental changes, they will over time totally destroy public
    confidence and, hence, they will be responsible for the elimination of
    nuclear power as a viable source of energy.

    Did Kemeny have a crystal ball? Not hardly.

    • Rich Lentz says:

      I wish I had enough time to comment on the Kemeny Commission report. I was a rather senior engineer/manager with GPU – the owner of TMI – and happened to be there at the time of the accident. There is a lot of “safety” bias in that report. There were members of that commission that wanted to shut down ALL NPPs, those that wanted to make a name for themselves, those that wanted to fix the industry, and those that wanted to CYA. For example:
      “There are structural problems in the various organizations, there are deficiencies in various processes, and there is a lack of communication among key individuals and groups. ” Did you know that this was precipitated by the fact that the problem with the “PORV” happened several months earlier at Davis Besse during start-up, the DB operators discovered the problem, isolated the PORV, fixed the PORV, and went on their way. NO ONE at any of the other plants knew of this “incident” other than grape-vine talk, not wide spread, and not to the operators. I had been in contact with DB engineers several times after their minor event and before the incident at TMI and not once did they tell me about their problems with the PORV. The NRC was also aware of the DB PORV incident, via the IR program, and again NO other B&W plants were told of the problem. If the TMI operators had known about this – TMI-II would be operating today – GUARENTEED!
      Aside: Back in the late 70’s (before computers), but before TMI-II, in looking for some detailed information on a particular plant problem I went to NRC HQ to review the Incident Reports (IR’s) and see if other plants had this problem. I was directed to a room in the basement were a clerk showed me the “banker box” files of that years IRs (part 21 reports). As I spent the better part of a day trying to find the information I needed I got an idea of just what they did with these reports. The conclusion I left with was that even though the plants were required by law to submit these reports all that the NRC did was catalogue them and file them. PERIOD.

      • mjd says:

        Question:” Did you know that this was precipitated by the fact that the problem with the “PORV” happened several months earlier at Davis Besse during start-up, the DB operators discovered the problem, isolated the PORV, fixed the PORV, and went on their way.”
        Answer: I’d say i knew about it. I was the Shift Supervisor/SRO during that event.
        Yup… plants never got the word, but it got to ACRS twice. Don’t have to explain those reports to me, deposed for Rogovin (it was even worse), and a live witness for GPU vs B&W trial in NYC. I could about write a book about it. Your anger can’t possibly approach mine. I could have explained it to any operator in about three minutes. In hind sight it is so simple; but based on my understanding, training, procedures, and the control room I was in at the time, for 22 minutes, the world as I knew it totally unraveled. That event would have been the same at any PWR with a hole in the pressurizer top, including navy. I still can’t stand the fact those three TMI operators took the bullet for the whole industry failure.
        Doesn’t change my conclusions on my post. BTW, I had trouble posting so I sent a considerable longer post via direct contact email. It had more “opinions”.

    • northcoast says:

      I worked in Pittsburgh on Navy reactor plants at the time. From conversation with an engineer on the utility side, it seemed that new plants were having unanticipated operating problems associated with the interaction of system components supplied by different vendors. The Navy would have taken the time to diagnose and fix such problems, but I don’t think the utility managers had quite the same attitude. Some place I remember reading that TMI-2 operation had not been trouble free, and I think that some of the confusion in the control room that morning could be traced to earlier problems with the plant and the gages.

      • northcoast says:

        Surprised to find my 2013 TMI comment here under “Romance of radium.”

        • Rod Adams says:

          Hummm.

          Good point. Apparently changing the date on an old post to make it republish wreaks havoc with the associate comment data. Who knew?

          I’ll try to figure it out tomorrow. Got plans for this evening.

          In the meantime, I guess everyone will be confused together.

          • mjd says:

            Looks straight forward to me. The republish posted the story but originally had no comments or even a comment link. When the post first hit the site, it had no comments showing for awhile (or even the comment link). I checked later in the day and it suddenly had 48 comments (and also a comment link), but they were all the 2013 comments. Maybe “enabling” comments (later) just grabbed the old ones from the archive. If comments were enabled at the re-post, they may have all showed from the start. Probably just the nature of the software.
            It didn’t confuse me, except for the length of my rants.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @mjd

            But the comments posted don’t seem to be related to the post about radium.

  3. Daniel says:

    Hints that nuclear reactors will restart in Japan:

    1) New set of rules to be set forth in July by independent body

    2) York Consulting put out some recent numbers showing Japan utilities have spent somewhere between $12 billion and $13 billion on safety upgrades recently, suggesting a belief their units will restart

  4. John Tucker says:

    Its strange, that they seemed perfectly able to accept both the uses and dangers of a substance so matter of factly then.

  5. Mikael Ros says:

    I think many of us would pay serious money for a Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab (1950-1951)

    http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/atomictoys/GilbertU238Lab.htm

  6. Daniel says:

    Another country plagued with a nuclear nightmare, albeit an indirect one, is Bulgaria.

    Before joining the Europan Union, Bulgaria had enough nuclear capacity to export electricity to adjacent countries. As a condition to become a member of the Union, they had to close Soviet type reactors. They were compensated but never got around to use the money to replace the foregone capacity (A little sound governmental foresight would have made it mandatory to use the compensation money to first build replacement reactors, then close the old ones)

    Now Bulgaria has skyrocketing electricity prices that eats away close to 60% of middle class citizen’s income. Riots everywhere.

    Bulgaria joined the European community to escape poverty. They should split and reopen the reactors. Rod has always maintained that the Soviet type reactors were safe and I agree.

    So nuclear stupidity is not limited to Japan, the US and Germany.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      The 2 inactive reactors in Bulgaria are VVERs, not RMBKs.  They’re just 440 MW(e) apiece; would 880 MW make that big a difference to Bulgaria?  It’s around 120 watts per capita.

      • Rod Adams says:

        @Engineer-Poet

        Thank you for the correction. 880 MWe may not be too much per capita, but it is enough to produce one half to one million dollars per day worth of revenue. That is nothing to sneeze at for an economy the size of Bulgaria’s.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          At 10¢/kWh, 880 MW(e) is worth about $2 million/day.  That comes to about $100/capita/year.

          Interesting data point:  EIA figures indicate that Bulgaria exports 25% or more of its electric generation.  Adding 880 MW(e) would boost exports from about 13 TWh/a to ~20 TWH/a.

          There must be some large effect on electricity pricing at the margins, because otherwise this doesn’t look like such a huge deal.  Bulgarian GDP/capita is about $6900.  Adding or subtracting $100 from that is more or less what you’d expect from the economy going up or down a bit.

      • Krigl says:

        Hmm, I’m a year late, but there are actually four mothballed VVER-440s in Kozloduy, not two. They are VVER-440/V-230 subtype, the newer V-213 we have here (Czech Republic), were uprated to net 500 MWe each, instead of shutdown. Now these four oldies produce half of our nuclear electricity. Not sure if it would work with V-230, they were the first of the line and had some safety issues, whose addressing resulted in V-213.

  7. Josh says:

    It appears Slovakia has had a similar experience to that of Bulgaria. The Slovaks were forced to close two older units even though they could have safely provided power for several more years. Happily, the new left wing government (Fico was elected last year) is strongly committed to a nuclear expansion.

    • Rod Adams says:

      Contrast the experience of Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania, who were all forced to shutdown well maintained and refurbished RBMKs with that of Russia, which has not only continued to run their own RBMKs but has extended their licenses.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904563904576584831235317422.html

      Critics say Russians would rather squeeze more power out of the old reactors than build expensive new ones, or gas-fired power plants, as Russian officials prefer to sell the natural gas to Western Europe.

      So do supporters; it is a sensible business and environmental move.

      I suspect Russia liked it when the EU forced former Soviet Union satellite countries back into energy dependence on Russia. The sales revenues from natural gas have been far higher than the nuclear fuel sales would have been.

      It’s also easier to threaten a gas customer with shutting off valves. It’s much harder to have leverage on a nuclear fuel customer who only needs to buy fuel every 18 months or so and can afford to store several reloads on site if necessary.

      • Rod Adams says:

        I continue to wonder sometimes if Chernobyl was a sabotage job aimed at discrediting nuclear energy and encouraging natural gas sales. That explanation fits with the Russian decision to keep operating the very plants that were demonized in the west. They were in a good position to know that the hazardous situation could be easily avoided through proper operation and a few minor modifications.

        • DV82XL says:

          Best never to assign to conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by stupidity; given the state of the U.S.S.R. at that time, incompetence is by far the more likely cause.

        • illumined says:

          Now now Rod, let’s save the conspiracy theories for the renewable energy supporters. What happened at Chernobyl can reasonably be blamed on the inherently flawed design of the RMBK itself as well as incompetent management. If they hadn’t tried to run a dangerous experiment the incident might never have happened.

          • Rod Adams says:

            Why is it so far fetched to suspect that the “ill-planned” experiment was not so accidental? The reaction has certainly resulted in many billions worth of fossil fuel sales that might otherwise have never happened. Just think about all of the nuclear plants that were shutdown in overreaction. Then imagine how many others could have been built if there had not ever been a Chernobyl.

            When you read the detailed report as I have and keep asking “how could they have been so stupid as to do THAT”, pretty soon you start to think, what if just one of the people involved knew exactly what he was doing?

            Conspiracies that require cooperation of many are hard to believe; events that only require a couple of people to be “in on it” are less far fetched.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Why is it so far fetched to suspect that the “ill-planned” experiment was not so accidental?

            I think you can make a better case that the Sandy Hook massacre was a false-flag operation.  The fact that there is a full-court press on to ban the oxymoronic “semi-automatic assault rifle” (an assault rifle is fully automatic by definition) despite the fact that Adam Lanza left the Bushmaster in the trunk of the car he drove, and this was given in the earliest media reports suggests an agenda (the asset screwed up his execution of the script).

            The Soviets could easily have lost big from Chernobyl.  If public opinion had only gone against the RMBK and an anti-Soviet faction had won out due to the contamination, all of Europe might be full of PWRs and BWRs today as a consequence of governments turning away from anything and everything Russian.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Engineer-Poet

            One case of man’s inhumanity to man does not preclude others.

            Never saying that there is anything like a perfect plan or perfect prescience. However, I’ve read a few Russian novels and lived for more than half a century. Both experiences help me understand that Occam’s Razor type explanations for human activities often neglect the wonderful and tragic complexity of our minds and activities.

            Some people, often scientists and engineers, think I’m off my rocker or have too much imagination. Oh well…

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            My point is that Chernobyl could so easily have gone the “wrong” way (for the Soviets) in the PR department that the conspiracy theory strains credulity.  Had even one government said “Three Mile Island hurt nobody, we should build PWRs instead of buying gas from the builders of RMBKs”, all of Europe might now be like France.

          • Rod Adams says:

            Oh, but we did hear that – over and over again. How many times have you heard about how “western” reactors had containments and did not use that scary (no so) flammable graphite as the moderator?

            There was plenty of demonization of Russian reactor designs and claimed superiority of PWRs. However, the antinuclear movements have used the accident to say bad things about all nuclear plants for 25+ years.

            Again, it’s not a “conspiracy” theory to point out that there was plenty of gain available for ANY large accident at any nuclear plant if such an event could be instigated. Remember, we are talking about people from a nation where intrigue and complex plot lines are an integral part of the cultural history.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Engineer-Poet – Yes, the average journalist is so poorly equipped to report on this subject that the press often uses such stupid and incorrect terms as “semi-automatic assault rifle.” It’s not unlike their reporting on nuclear power. 😉

            But the politicians call these firearms “assault weapons,” which is a conveniently nebulous term that doesn’t have any meaning beyond being a euphemism for “scary-looking gun” (and scary is in the eye of the beholder). Assault rifles are already heavily regulated and controlled by federal law.

          • DV82XL says:

            To paraphrase Freud: sometimes a cigar is just a smoke, in other words one must keep one’s perspective.

            The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed. And if not the real cause, then at least the proximate one.

            The price of the catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as they could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.

            Postulating that this event was engineered could just as easily have a reason assigned to these outcomes as well.

            That is the problem with this sort of inductive reasoning, and why conspiracy theories should not be taken seriously without substantive proof.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            How many times have you heard about how “western” reactors had containments and did not use that scary (no so) flammable graphite as the moderator?

            Lots of times, mostly coming from myself.

            Had there been a few, or even one, major public figures or environmentalists breaking with the “No Nukes” orthodoxy to say “Hey, at its worst this is still the best thing out there!”, the whole thing could have flipped.  We may be watching a slow-motion flip right now, with James Lovelock and George Monbiot pushing the wedge into the environmentalist coalition.  When it splits, nuclear will have vocal advocates on both major sides of the political spectrum.  Had that happened in 1986-88, we probably wouldn’t be having an ideological fight over ACC today.

          • Joris van Dorp says:

            “The price of the catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Some even suggest that the economic price for the USSR was so high that it stopped the arms race, as they could not keep building arms while paying to clean up Chernobyl.”

            A more likely trigger for the Soviet collapse was – AFAIK – the plummeting oil prices in that period, thought to be the deliberate strategy of the USA in cooperation with the Saudi’s at the time.

            =====

            The timeline of the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to September 13, 1985. On this date, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the minister of oil of Saudi Arabia, declared that the monarchy had decided to alter its oil policy radically. The Saudis stopped protecting oil prices, and Saudi Arabia quickly regained its share in the world market. During the next six months, oil production in Saudi Arabia increased fourfold, while oil prices collapsed by approximately the same amount in real terms.
            As a result, the Soviet Union lost approximately $20 billion per year, money without which the country simply could not survive. The Soviet leadership was confronted with a difficult decision on how to adjust. There were three options–or a combination of three options–available to the Soviet leadership.
            First, dissolve the Eastern European empire and effectively stop barter trade in oil and gas with the Socialist bloc countries, and start charging hard currency for the hydrocarbons. This choice, however, involved convincing the Soviet leadership in 1985 to negate completely the results of World War II. In reality, the leader who proposed this idea at the CPSU Central Committee meeting at that time risked losing his position as general secretary.
            Second, drastically reduce Soviet food imports by $20 billion, the amount the Soviet Union lost when oil prices collapsed. But in practical terms, this option meant the introduction of food rationing at rates similar to those used during World War II. The Soviet leadership understood the consequences: the Soviet system would not survive for even one month. This idea was never seriously discussed.
            Third, implement radical cuts in the military-industrial complex. With this option, however, the Soviet leadership risked serious conflict with regional and industrial elites, since a large number of Soviet cities depended solely on the military-industrial complex. This choice was also never seriously considered.
            Unable to realize any of the above solutions, the Soviet leadership decided to adopt a policy of effectively disregarding the problem in hopes that it would somehow wither away. Instead of implementing actual reforms, the Soviet Union started to borrow money from abroad while its international credit rating was still strong. It borrowed heavily from 1985 to 1988, but in 1989 the Soviet economy stalled completely.

            http://www.aei.org/issue/foreign-and-defense-policy/regional/europe/the-soviet-collapse/

          • DV82XL says:

            The point I was making was not if Chernobyl produced the collapse of the Soviet Union, but rather one could make a plausible argument that it could have been a consequence and the meltdown was caused on purpose to bring this about. It is pure induction from correlation, and as you have shown fails to take in other possible explanations.

            This was only to illustrate the shortcomings of this type of reasoning when used by itself.

          • Joris van Dorp says:

            I put up the story about the link between oil price manipulation and the Soviet collapse mainly because I’ve always found it a very intriguing piece of history. What I also find interesting is that Pres. Eisenhower purportedly told the Saudi’s (in the 1950’s I think) that the Saudi’s better develop their oil reserves and manage the world oil-price such that it would be optimal for the USA (and US oil producers), or otherwise, the USA would ‘unleash nuclear power’ upon the world and make oil obsolete! I couldn’t find a good source for that story, perhaps someone knows it?

            thanks,

            Joris

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Joris

            Robert Anderson was Eisenhower’s envoy in a situation similar to the one you describe. The story is in Daniel Yergin’s The Prize. You might be able to find a post or two on Atomic Insights that discuss it. I’m on a limited mobile device right now. I have a dog eared copy of The Prize in my library.

  8. Rick Maltese says:

    @mjd

    Do you have a link to the Kemeney report? Some of the quoted sections would be good for my blog Deregulate the Atom. http://deregulatetheatom.com
    Your selected sections are a great example of what are sometimes called the failure of bureaucracy.

    Is this the same report? Report Of The President’s Commission On The Accident At Three Mile Island http://www.pddoc.com/tmi2/kemeny/

  9. Robert E. Schenter, PhD says:

    Ra226 is an extremely valuable substance used for something not very well known.
    It is used as a target in a fission reactor system to make the most important therapeutic medical isotopes. These isotopes are Ac227/Ra223, Ac227/Th227 Ac225/Bi213 and Ac225 and
    are alpha emitters and are part of “Smart Bullet Systems” which kill cancer cells and HIV
    virus without harming healthy human cells.
    The method is called “Radioimmunotherapy(RIT)” or “Cell DirectedTherapy”.
    It has been very effective in “treating/curing” many forms of cancer especially recently.

    Bayer and Algeta have initiated billion dollar programs to use Th227 and Ra223 to do
    RIT for several forms of cancer.

    We made these isotopes in the FFTF and HFIR in the 1990s.

    They are currently only made in a small fission reactor in Norway.
    Unfortunately, not in the US.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Robert,

      Is the claim that made by some greens in Québec that all those precious medical isotopes need no longer be produced in nuclear reactors but simply in superconducting super colliders (SSC) facilities?

      Who can answer this important claim ?

  10. Kroll says:

    reminds me of galen winsor and his “nuclear scare scam”. by the way anybody knows what happened to him? Cant find any information about him.

  11. Robert E. Schenter, PhD says:

    Ra226 even today is a very valuable material. It is used as a target in fission reactor systems
    to make the alpha emitting isotopes Ac227/Ra223,Ac227/Th227, Ac225/Bi213.
    These isotopes are used very effectively for the treatment of several forms of cancer.
    The approach (“Smart Bullets” -“Radioimmunotherapy”) has the advantage of killing
    the cancer cells without harming the healthy cells.

  12. Robert E. Schenter, PhD says:

    Daniel, Using an SSC is an extremely impractical and costly way to make medical isotopes.
    High Energy Physicists don’t have a clue how to make medical isotopes effectively.
    Unfortunately, there is only a small handful of isotope production physicists in the US.
    The maximum isotope production occusr for neutrons with energies between .025Ev and 10keV.
    Not hundreds of MeV protons or electrons. You would need to make neutrons with the SSC
    and then slow them down to thermal and epithermal energies. Also, the flux levels of the neutrons will be much lower than a typical thermal fission reactor such as HFIR(USA) , MURR(USA) or ATR(USA).

    Claims that SLAC could effectively produce isotopes to cure cancer by the “Greenies”
    is pure nonsense and typical of the false “facts?”
    they are issuing. Unfortunately, many of the bureaucrats that fund these programs
    have no technical knowledge of isotope production and don’t ask the “experts” about it.

  13. Stephen Jones says:

    Great video.

    Glowing in the dark seems the thing that is most associated with all things radioactive and nuclear in the minds of the public.

    I must say I’ve never really understood why if radium is emitting alpha, beta or gamma rays why that would make it glow in the dark with visible light. Or is it just particular solutions of radium salts that do? If anyone can explain this I would be very grateful.

    • Brian Mays says:

      Radioluminescent paint consists of radioactive material mixed with a luminescent crystalline powder. Zinc sulfide powder often is used. It’s the powder that emits the light, not the radioactive material.

      At sufficient intensity and high-enough energy, however, beta and gamma radiation can produce visual sensations in the eye, caused by Cerenkov radiation, that result in the person sensing a blue or white light. In the case of radium, the effect is primarily caused by beta radiation (i.e., high-speed electrons), but the gamma rays from radium’s daughters also contribute to the effect.

      • Stephen Jones says:

        Thank you very much. At the end of that video we get to see a small piece of radium. Then it seems like they turn the lights out and we can see it glowing – is that special FX.

        The final image of the radium spitting out sparks is surely not real is it?

  14. mjd says:

    After my initial attempt to post to the forum, for some reason it didn’t appear to post at first, don’t know why as no indication of a problem; several hours later it showed up. Later I realized that my initial post attempt wasn’t really adding anything to the discussion, as it didn’t offer a solution. I’d guess that “How did our relationship with radioactive material sour?”, in your line of work Rod, actually may mean “How did our relationship with commercial nuclear power sour?
    The short answer is the nuke industry’s long mindset love affair with plants too expensive to build and construction projects too big to manage. All compounded by a dysfunctional regulatory agency.
    There were clear warnings however “mindsets” by definition can prevent some people from thinking out-side-the-box. It’s rather unfortunate too as the US already had nuke plants successfully running out-side-the-box of the commercial nuclear power’s huge active safety system designs.
    Here are some warnings that came out of an event that almost got everybody’s attention.
    From page eight of the Kemeny Commission Report:
    Quote
    “ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES
    Our investigation started out with an examination of the accident at Three Mile Island (TMI). This necessarily led us to look into the role played by the utility and its principal suppliers. With our in-depth investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), we gained a broader insight into the attitudes and practices that prevail in portions of the industry. However, we did not examine the industry in its totality.

    Popular discussions of nuclear power plants tend to concentrate on questions of equipment safety. Equipment can and should be improved to add further safety to nuclear power plants, and some of our recommendations deal with this subject. But as the evidence accumulated, it became clear that the fundamental problems are people-related problems and not equipment problems.

    When we say that the basic problems are people-related, we do not mean to limit this term to shortcomings of individual human beings — although those do exist. We mean more generally that our
    investigation has revealed problems with the “system” that manufactures, operates, and regulates nuclear power plants. There are structural problems in the various organizations, there are deficiencies in various processes, and there is a lack of communication among key individuals and groups.

    We are convinced that if the only problems were equipment problems, this Presidential Commission would never have been created. The equipment was sufficiently good that, except for human failures, the major accident at Three Mile Island would have been a minor incident. But, wherever we looked, we found problems with the human beings who operate the plant, with the management that runs the key organization, and with the agency that is charged with assuring the safety of nuclear
    power plants.

    In the testimony we received, one word occurred over and over again. That word is “mindset.” At one of our public hearings, Roger Mattson, director of NRC’s Division of Systems Safety, used that word five times within a span of 10 minutes. For example: “I think [the] mindset [was] that the operator was a force for good, that if you discounted him, it was a measure of conservatism.” In other words, they
    concentrated on equipment, assuming that the presence of operators could only improve the situation — they would not be part of the problem.”
    End quote
    Read that carefully and let the key points soak in; people problems and mindsets.
    From page twenty five of the Kemeny Commission Report:
    Quote
    “Nevertheless, we feel that our findings and recommendations are of vital importance for the future of nuclear power. We are convinced that, unless portions of the industry and its regulatory agency undergo
    fundamental changes, they will over time totally destroy public confidence and, hence, they will be responsible for the elimination of nuclear power as a viable source of energy.”
    End quote

    Let that one soak in… a crystal ball? Not really, but apparently too subtle to be of any use.

    TMI was a wake-up call, but the industry didn’t wake up. The whole industry missed the opportunity to address the root cause of the problem. In hindsight I suspect some of it was the result of trying to save the huge capital investment involved in the already running plants and the plants under construction, so “reinventing the wheel” was not considered. All the currently running nuke plant designs originated from an initial bad concept that fell out of the Shippingport Plant demonstration effort back in the 50’s. The project was simply to demonstrate that nukes could be used to make electricity and supply it to the electrical grid, and it did that. But then they took Admiral Rickover’s simple passive safety system Naval Reactor’s submarine design, and hay-bailed on the active safety systems, to make it safe for land use in populated areas. And that hay-bailed demo plant design somehow got “a cast in concrete mindset” as the standard concept. Anyone familiar with the new ESBWR and AP1000 designs, compared to the navy plants, sees them looking more like Rickover’s original NR design. But it doesn’t matter; too little – too late, too much momentum against them and they have a non-economically feasible price tag for a public utility. For me, an analogy to what was done to the nuke plants post TMI would be if, after the Hindenburg blew up, that industry decided to kept the H2 concept and add super appendix R requirements (fire), Environmental Qualifications, more seismic strength, anti-lightening protection, security, improved pilot training, add Emergency Operations Facilities to landing strips, etc, blah, blah, blah. And nobody involved ever said “WAIT, using hydrogen in this application is a stupid idea in the first place.
    Some of the post-TMI “fixes” were needed, e.g. improved Symptom Based Emergency Procedures vice Event Based, improved EOFs, etc. The simple fact remains that all the engineering and hardware costs required to protect those active safety systems are a significant contributor to the initial costs and design change over run costs. Sometimes it seems like “If we can dream it up, we’ll regulate it”. My understanding is that there are now even designs with not only three, but four trains of active safety systems. Just what are they selling, a Ponzi scheme?
    All extremely complicated technologies eventually run into their first event of extreme crisis. The Navy’s loss of the USS Thresher and NASA’s loss of the Apollo 1 crew come to mind. How a particular technology responds, in the long term, to that event is a testimonial to the strength of the people involved and the program they put together for self evaluation. It’s obvious to me that within those two organizations, when the voice said “What we’re currently doing is a stupid idea in the first place”, that someone in a position to make a difference was listening. I have no doubts about the strength of most of the people involved in commercial nuclear power, however I can see events with evidence of what the space shuttle Columbia accident investigation board called a “normalization of deviance”, driven by the shear cost of these big units. But from my cheap seat view, the programmatic problems are endemic from A to Z, i.e. there is no consistent non-changing national policy on new nukes and spent fuel, the designers and operators mindset on plants too big to succeed; and then there are the regulators at the NRC. On that subject, if anyone is actually driving this train, they should look at how navy plants are regulated. So if a sane voice is actually out there, it would be better served barking at the moon.

    One of my final thoughts on this subject is on the concept of “Corporate Safety Culture”. In the corporate commercial nuke world it’s an oxymoron; but more the nature of the beast than an inherent fault with people. When this much money is involved in the decision making process, and a business profit must be made, sooner or later an (unknown) unacceptable risk will be taken based solely on economic reasons, think CR3 Containment fiasco. All these current nuke plants should be run by a single non-profit organization and policed by the “cream-of-the-crop” of Licensed Operators. It’s not that strange of an idea, think US Navy nuke program. And the next step is to rapidly replace these “tired old plants” with a single design passive safety system SMR. Of course that would take some unlikely national Executive and Congressional courageous leadership from folks whose very jobs are dependent on money from the very corporate interests who don’t want to see that happen.

    Footnote
    For those folks who still think TMI killed the demand for nuclear power in the US, here are some easily verifiable facts. The orders for nuke plants in the US peaked at what would have been a total of just over two hundred plants in 1975. By 1978, one year before TMI, about 50% of those had been canceled. To paraphrase a politician… “It’s the economics (of huge and/or active safety system plants), stupid!” That and misleading future electrical power need projections.

    • Rich L says:

      If a major accident was destined to happen, the nuclear Industry should be glad that it happened at TMI. After Leaving TMI I was a contractor solving problems at five other NPPs, all in the papers for their problems. The thing that struck me the most, and this was ten years after TMI-II, was the laissez faire attitude about the plants personnel. Several plants had NEVER performed any form of monthly, quarterly, or even annual/refueling interval calibration/preventative maintenance checks on the entire Balance-of-Plant ( BOP – non nuclear support systems) NONE. Their attitude was when it broke – Fix it. At Rancho Seco in 1986 I discovered that they even applied this same lack of preventative maintenance to the Integrated Control System (ICS). It had not been verified to be in calibration since the Bailey representative had calibrated/adjusted for proper operation at the initial startup (1975?). They had no readily available record of data for the thousands of settings on this control system. (For non B&W operators, this controls the entire steam plant, feed water system, turbine/generator and has auto runbacks for the Reactor. At the typical coal power station all they have is the Bailey ICS to control the entire plant.) When a BOP system was out of calibration the technician went out in the plant with the manual and “did-his-best” no procedure, no checklist, no plant review committee review/approval – just get it working again. This same attitude was prevalent, through the manager level, at each of those plants I worked at. Many of which had 8 – 10 years of INPO 1’s for their “Excellent” operational status, prior to the problem I went there to solve. The other common thread among these bad actors was that their senior managers were rarely ex Navy let alone ex military, and in talking to the ex Navy personnel I learned that they did not advance very far in the company. At one plant, more than 75% of managers and higher graduated from the same university – which had no nuclear program! It was well known “If you did not graduate from ___ you do not have a chance for a promotion.” They did hire the ex captain of the Navy Nuclear Power School – to get off of the INPO problem list in Training. He never got a promotion after that though.

      The Construction Startup managers at TMI were ex Navy Nav-Ships Nuclear Shipyard managers/directors and basically duplicated the Navy Program for TMI. MetED copied the same program for their maintenance program and maintained BOP systems at the same high standard as Safety Related systems – less the SR paperwork. No other plant I worked at had this level of a maintenance program, procedures, or control over BOP systems. I firmly believe if the accident had happened at Rancho Seco, for example, in 1979, after the Kemeny and Rogovin commission were through the US nuclear program would be over.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @mjd

      Though your comment is lengthy, it is full of meat about a lesson that may not have been learned, but really must be learned if we are going to move forward.

      I am not sure I agree with the part about the need for a “single design passive safety system”; even the program where I cut my nuclear teeth has more than one design, though all have always had a great deal of inherent passive safety due to moderate sizes, negative temperature coefficient of reactivity, and plenty of heat removal capacity that requires no electricity.

      I am also not sure that the country needs to be served by one NR-like organization; it is a very big place and might be better served by having several organizations with similarly trained and qualified leadership structures. Non-profit organizations do not automatically make better decisions and are not automatically less interested in money; their budgetary limits can be far worse than those associated with organizations that are focused on long term profits. For example, how likely do you think it is that Apple Computer would make a bad decision BECAUSE they were worried about the cost of starting over when a design exhibited weakness during the testing phase? Do you think ExxonMobil would fail to invest a sufficient quantity of money in blowout prevention; especially after learning how much a supplier shortcut?

      Just in case you do not know my professional background and my focus toward easily operated, passively safe machinery, you might want to visit http://atomicengines.com. My current employer is also quite focused on building resilient machinery with operator focus and passive safety as a fundamental starting point. http://www.babcock.com/products/modular_nuclear/

  15. Robert E. Schenter, PhD says:

    Daniel, Another article came out today(physicsworld.com) illustrating why the “Greenies”
    “don’t have their heads on straight”. The article is titled “Gold nanocages could image
    and treat tumors”. The gold nano cages will contain radioactive Au198(2.694d) which plays a very important role in the process. Au197(stable) has very large thermal and epithermal neutron
    Au198 production cross sections making it ideal for production in fission reactor systems not SSCs. Au198 has been made very effectively before in these systems.

  16. JohnGalt says:

    > a contrast to watch how the photographer dresses and shields himself in comparison to the way that the experienced scientist protects himself…

    There was also a 3rd character shown in the scene with the “scientist” and “photographer” – the “assistant” who transported the vial from the vault to the work table resembling an early partial glove box. To reduce exposure, they all used assorted forms of “time, distance and shielding” measures, including gloves, aprons, long tweezers, shielding, and face shields (with a brief exception). The claim of “contrast” is overblown, but of course it was all dramatized.

    > amusing to think about the difference between the nervous amateur and the calm professional.
    > it demonstrated the ability to provide positive health benefits by curing infection, and increasing the strength of our ability to combat illness
    > Becquerel’s habit of carrying a vial of radium in his coat pocket.

    By 1937, the year of this film, Marie Curie had been dead a few years, after succumbing to “aplastic anemia, a blood disease often caused by too much exposure to radiation,” at the age of 66. She also apparently carried radium in her pocket, and was professionally calm and careless about the unknown (at that time) harmful effects. Too bad it killed her.

    There are still people who go to old mines to breathe in radon gas in hopes of miracle cures, based on hopes and prayers.

    Henri Becquerel’s cause of death isn’t easily found, but he only made it to age 55.

    Carelessness, “professional calm,” and lack of apparent acute harm, to casual observers, based on anecdotes and dramatization provides no useful information for serious discussion of “best practices,” but thanks for the amusing entertainment.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @JohnGalt

      You misunderstood my comment about “best practices.” It was referring to the communications value of calm understanding.

      Marie Curie lived longer than the life expectancy of a French woman at the time of her death. Her exposure could not be considered to be “low dose” and it was not limited to her close contact with radium and uranium. She and her daughter spent years operating battlefield x-ray machines that were light enough to move by slightly modified 1915 vintage automobiles over rough terrain. They worked long hours and did little to protect themselves because they were saving lives.

      That might have had something to do with her “aplastic anemia.” It might also have something to do with a lifetime of such focused work ethic that she often forgot to eat.

      • JohnGalt says:

        Rather, you misunderstood which of your comments about “best practices” I was referring to. I was referring to your misguided efforts to convince people that ALARA should be overturned, and dose limits should be increased, including to the public.

        “Low dose” is in the eye of the dosee. Your perception is blinded by your personal and professional interests. Indeed, the early nuclear cowboys and cowgirls used radiation like the person whose only tool is a hammer, and everything looks like a nail.

        After some people sicken or die, and investigation ties their illnesses to radiation effects, it’s not surprising the “romance” dies, and the videos show increased precautions being taken.

      • JohnGalt says:

        Decades of handling radioactive materials—the effects of which were poorly understood at the time—ultimately took a toll on Curie. By the 1920s she had developed muscle aches, anemia, cataracts and a host of other symptoms. She died on July 4, 1934, of leukemia caused by exposure to radiation.

        http://www.history.com/news/remembering-marie-curie-on-her-144th-birthday

        In 1903, Pierre Curie, after observing burns on his arm left by the chunk of radium that he tied to it for 10 hours, concluded that he had discovered a cure for cancer. Manufactures of everything from toothpaste to laxatives packed their products with radioactive thorium. Radium bath salts claimed to treat insomnia. “Revigorator” pots – ceramic drinking vessels lined with radon and uranium – were prescribed for flatulence, among other ailments.

        It wasn’t until the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that radioactive consumer products were banned, too late for industrialist and socialite Eben Byers, who tried to treat an injured arm with nearly 1,400 bottles of radium-infused water. He was buried in a lead-lined coffin.

        http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/Horizons/2011/1107/Marie-Curie-Why-her-papers-are-still-radioactive

        • Rod Adams says:

          @JohnGalt

          Your history.com quote is not correct – Marie Curie did not have leukemia. She died of “aplastic anemia,” which is not the same disease. Again, she was older than the average life expectance of a French woman at the time of her death.

          Eben Byers was another example of someone who was not exposed to low dose radiation; ingesting 1400 bottles of a radium infused water gave him a substantial body burden and internal doses in the several sieverts range.

          • JohnGalt says:

            Some sources say aplastic anemia is a precursor to leukemia, in some cases. Averages are an average tactic in lies, damn lies, and statistics. I doubt being older than average was much comfort when suffering from several radiation caused ailments for several years before dying.

            Byers is an example of someone who was harmed by the overblown claims of supporters of using radiation when it was not fully understood. Though perhaps at lower levels, supporters continue promoting all things nuclear when it is still not fully understood.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            What proof did anyone have that Marie Curie’s ailments were caused by radiation exposure and not by chemical exposure, poor nutritional habits, lack of sleep, or overwork?

            Have you read anything about the conditions under which she labored? What is your knowledge level about living a healthy life?

            I highly recommend reading the biography that Eve Curie wrote about her mother. I will grant that high doses of radiation during laboratory work and during wartime service as an x-ray specialist probably contributed to a somewhat early death for Mme Curie. However, many of the ailments your source described are not uncommon among all aging human beings.

            The point is that the hazards imposed by radiation are reasonably well known, dependent on dose, and not substantially more scary than those imposed by many other features of normal life on earth.

          • JohnGalt says:

            …after more than 100 years, much of Marie Curie’s stuff – her papers, her furniture, even her cookbooks – are still radioactive. Those who wish to open the lead-lined boxes containing her manuscripts must do so in protective clothing, and only after signing a waiver of liability.

            Along with her husband and collaborator, Pierre, Marie Curie lived her life awash in ionizing radiation. She would carry bottles of the polonium and radium in the pocket of her coat and store them in her desk drawer. In his 2008 book “The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914” historian Philipp Blom quotes Marie Curie’s autobiographical notes, in which she describes the mysterious blue-green lights in her lab:

            “One of our joys was to go into our workroom at night; we then perceived on all sides the feebly luminous silhouettes of the bottles of capsules containing our products. It was really a lovely sight and one always new to us. The glowing tubes looked like faint, fairy lights.”

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            Exactly. Does that sound like what anyone would consider to be low dose radiation today? Despite her occupational choices, Marie lived a full life without significant negative Heath impacts. Compare her health to that of someone who spent their career as a chemist that did not study radiation.

          • JohnGalt says:

            We will have to agree to disagree. Most people would say she did suffer significant negative health impacts.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            Yes, most people would say that. Point remains, even if she did experience negative health impacts, did she control her doses to levels that would be within today’s occupational limits.

            There’s no doubt that she was not seeking ALARA.

          • EL says:

            Your history.com quote is not correct – Marie Curie did not have leukemia.

            @Rod Adams

            Is it really worth it to point out we have discussed this before (and to little purpose it would seem)?

            http://atomicinsights.com/chernobyl-still-dangerous-60-minutes-pushing-propaganda/#comment-106683

            “Curie’s disease was diagnosed as ‘aplastic anemia’ of rapid, feverish development, but is widely considered to have been a variant of myelodysplasia, a preleukemic syndrome that resembles aplastic anemia and progresses to fatal leukemia.”

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            Your point?

            “Widely considered…” is not evidence. Just because you have posted that as a comment here and I have not deleted it, does not mean I have accepted it as truth.

            Talk to a medical professional. Find out if they believe that a “preleukemic syndrome” is the same as leukemia.

          • JohnGalt says:

            > Talk to a medical professional. Find out if they believe that a “preleukemic syndrome” is the same as leukemia.

            Better for you to report on your discussions with them on detection and effects of “low” doses of radiation, of different types, on different organs, and all the complications, and needs for research in the area, before advocating lower limits.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            Done. Please see Atomic Insights category “health effects.” Many members of SARI are medical doctors and radiation biology specialists.

          • JohnGalt says:

            Sorry. Apparently the words “objective and impartial” need to be explicitly added, or you will refer to an advocacy group with a pre-determined agenda. Putting “Scientists for Accurate” in a group’s title does not negate the fact many members are not scientists, nor objective. It’s also not clear that any of them are actually practicing doctors, in any field of medicine, not just bone diseases. Anyway, it’s always interesting to see so many people, whose careers were subsidized by the DOE, continuing their “like-minded” efforts to spread the “truth” (LOL).

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            Here is the list of SARI members.

            http://radiationeffects.org/members/

            Before flinging any more of your mud on their credibility, how about coming out from behind your moniker and tell us about your degrees and your employment history. Are you knowledgable and objective on this topic?

            I don’t care much about “impartial” because it’s impossible to know much about any topic without forming opinions. Judges and juries might need impartiality, experts can’t maintain it.

          • JohnGalt says:

            That list, the Join link, and other propaganda links, were some grist for the previous comment.

            Current SARI members are free (and encouraged) to invite additional like-minded scientists (“Members”) and other individuals (“Associate Members”) to join our ranks.

            It is self evident that 50 percent (hah) of the first 4 listed members are self-described nuclear promoters more than scientists, but I digress and cherry pick “data,” similar to the promoters. So, what are the facts; how many members are actually scientists? How many are practicing doctors in medicine? How many are doctors in bone ailments? Really, should we be impressed that a Chiropractor supports the vague charter?

            The site’s animated favicon is one of the cooler ones seen recently, but the most objective/impartial information I saw was a link to a Discover magazine article by “David Warmflash.” Most of the site’s material comes off as primarily promotional, but that’s just like my opinion, man.

            The larger medical community, however, remains unconvinced. A 2006 review by the National Academy of Sciences considered a wide range of studies but concluded that evidence for radiation hormesis in humans was too thin to prove its existence. It pointed out that, although benefits of LDR were indeed reported in some studies, the downsides weren’t fully accounted for – things like gene mutations, cell death, or cancer many years later.

            For instance, in experiments on low-dose radiation given to dogs over the course of their lifetimes, though the dogs showed increased DNA repair and cell proliferation, they also had higher rates of leukemia. “It is unclear whether such competing events would result in a net gain, net loss, or no change in health status,” the authors write.

            There is a long way to go to in research on low levels of radiation before understanding its risks and benefits…

            You are always interested in resumes, smoking guns, hidden motivations, and such diversions, more than facing facts of comments (i.e. dodging not answering). If I were trying to sell something, or promote something, as you are, then maybe it would be fitting; however, I’m not, so it’s not. I realize it takes more effort, but sorry, you cannot accept or reject my statements based on simple pigeon-holing of my resume.

            As for mud slinging, my opinion is it’s best to avoid that, but sometimes one slips into the pig pen with the pigs.

            One should know better than to disagree with a distinguished English major on semantics, but these definitions line up with my usage, and obviously our opinions on “impartial” differ.

            objective, adjective – not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
            Synonyms: impartial, fair, impersonal, disinterested.
            Antonyms: personal.

            impartial, adjective – not partial or biased; fair; just: an impartial judge.
            Synonyms: unbiased, unprejudiced, equitable. See fair.
            Antonyms: biased.

            conflict of interest, noun
            1.
            the circumstance of a public officeholder, business executive, or the like, whose personal interests might benefit from his or her official actions or influence:
            The senator placed his stocks in trust to avoid possible conflict of interest.
            2.
            the circumstance of a person who finds that one of his or her activities, interests, etc., can be advanced only at the expense of another of them.

            You know “opinions” can be personal views with little or no basis, or expert opinions, and the focus on using ambiguous semantics is another dodge.

            Medical opinions are best from impartial doctors without conflicts of interest, not from doctors who own shares in companies that promote particular treatments in favor of other competing treatments from other companies. Eve Curie’s biography of Marie is probably a good book, but only the most gullible readers would expect it to be objective or impartial. It has its place, of course, but so do books by less personally involved authors. That is, if you’re interested in “truth.”

          • Rod Adams says:

            @JohnGalt

            You wrote:

            You are always interested in resumes, smoking guns, hidden motivations, and such diversions, more than facing facts of comments (i.e. dodging not answering). If I were trying to sell something, or promote something, as you are, then maybe it would be fitting; however, I’m not, so it’s not. I realize it takes more effort, but sorry, you cannot accept or reject my statements based on simple pigeon-holing of my resume.

            But you are selling a point of view and promoting your negative views about nuclear energy. You are doing so on MY site, one that I’ve invested a considerable amount of time and other resources creating.

            In real life, where serious discussions take and important decisions are made, people have to earn a seat at the table.

            On Atomic Insights there is a certain latitude given to people who might need to protect their identity for professional reasons, but most of those people share enough info about themselves to establish their bona fides.

            If you refuse, you will be ignored and possibly blocked. You’ve posted well over 100 comments here for free. The ride has ended.

          • jmdesp says:

            @JohnGalt :
            The core group of SARI members, the one who started the initiative, consists of both practicing doctors and physicist with an expertise on radiation.
            This includes members Mohan Doss Medical Physicist for Fox Chase Cancer Center, Bobby R. Scott Scientist at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Mark L Miller, Certified Health Physicist at Sandia National Laboratories, two other physicist from SNL Douglas M. Osborn and Ruth F. Weiner, Matt Kaspar Health Physics and Radiological Engineer working in the Occupational Health Division of NNSA, Charles L. Sanders physicist at the KAIST of Korea, Charles W. Pennington physicist with a large industry expertise in spend fuel and radiological safety.

            However I do find this list quite light for the kind of claims they are making. When Tubiana and Aurengo in France expressed skepticism at the LNT, it was much stronger because their pedigree as radiology experts was simply unequaled (Tubiana had been one of Frédéric Joliot students, and published literally hundreds of scientific papers about radiations in his life).

          • EL says:

            Your point?

            @Rod Adams

            Marie Curie concealed her condition, Leukemia was not a common diagnosis at the time, and her radiation induced MDS may have progressed to AML (a well established risk according to most medical professionals).

            What is your point … that an eating disorder and fatigue (unrelated to radiation exposure) are somehow a better explanation for her premature death than from a well documented radiation related illness (and the common wisdom on the issue)?

          • Rod Adams says:

            @EL

            My points are:

            1. Marie Curie lived a long and productive life.
            2. Like many scientists filled with an intense curiosity about the world, she took some risk to pursue knowledge and exposed herself to substances that carry a risk if not properly handled. (It may be interesting to note that Dr. Helen Caldicott came close to a much earlier death from occupational risk; she pricked her finger while administering care to a person with hepatitis C. The subsequent illness nearly killed her. She was, at the time, a young mother of three. This episode is told with harrowing detail in her autobiography.)
            3. Marie Curie, like all of us, had many influences that had the potential to affect her health. Radiation-related illness is not simple to pinpoint, though many doctors are quite willing to accept the patient’s assertions that their illness was caused by exposure.
            4. Accurate history shows that even if her radiation exposure was the proximate cause of her death at age 67, that fact says NOTHING about the health risks of low dose radiation exposure. Her doses were not documented with dosimetry, but there is no doubt that they were substantially higher than those currently described as “low.”

            The BBC produced a documentary about Marie Curie in 2013. It’s not available on the usual video sources, but this one has a good copy – http://rutube.ru/video/113c7f19b814f44c5b48b373185f57e9/

            Please watch the last 6-7 minutes for a revisionist view of history based on evaluation of her remains.

  17. JohnGalt says:

    How could the romance of radium be covered, without a mention of the radium girls?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaIqlW6VcMY&index=10&list=PLEB4B776204CBE2EC

    • Rod Adams says:

      @JohnGalt

      Why don’t you share what you think you know about the radium girls who painted radium dial watches?

      • JohnGalt says:

        it is interesting to think about the way irrational radiation phobia has developed over the last 3/4 of a century.

        If you think it exists, which I doubt, it should be easy to explain it. Why didn’t you?

        It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. –Mark Twain

        I “think I know” the story of the radium girls is already well documented, and litigated, and you would try to use it to support a threshold dose, with much confidence but little sympathy for the suffering involved.

        Two Asides:

        It’s a small point or typo, but 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934 is a death at age 66, or four months short of age 67, for Marie Curie.

        PS – I am also interested in finding a better copy of the film than the one that I embedded for this post. It should be in the public domain; it is 76 years old. –Rod Adams

        Doubtful:

        Without the 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act, the book Gone with the Wind [1936] would have fallen into the public domain at the end of 2011, and the film [1939] would fall into the public domain at the end of 2014. (MGM)

        Today, copyrights can easily last for more than a century. Things were very different when America was founded.

        The big question now is whether incumbent copyright holders will try to get yet another extension of copyright terms before works begin falling into the public domain again on January 1, 2019.

        –Washington Post

        End Asides.

        Radium boys and girls, and lessons learned by 1925, or 1937, or 1986, or 1994 or… There are so many disgusting examples, but here is a tidbit:

        During the period 1961-1965, doses of the nuclides Radium-224, and Thorium-234 were given to 20 volunteers, 13 men and 7 women, aged 63 to 83. Six subjects were injected with radium, six were injected with thorium, one ingested radium, one ingested thorium, and six ingested both radium and thorium. These experiments were funded by the AEC and carried out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

        The AEC experiments with Age Center subjects thus represent a perversion of the Center’s original purpose: Feeding the subjects radium and thorium was of no direct benefit to the subjects or to the elderly population as a whole, and was not related to phenomena connected to the aging process.

        In a January 2, 1985 letter to the Subcommittee Chairman, the Department of Energy reported that no follow up had been conducted on the health of the experimental subjects. The Age Center no longer exists and one professor who conducted the study had “no idea how any records of survival history could be obtained.”

        –American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on US Citizens, Congress, 1986

        Fear not, “low doses of radiation are safe.”

        The incidence of thyroid cancer is increasing more rapidly than that of any other cancer in the United States. Some, although not all, of this increase can be explained by improved detection methods.

        Risk factors for thyroid cancer include being female, exposure to radiation to the head and neck as a child, exposure to radioactive fallout, a personal history of goiter, a family history of thyroid disease or thyroid cancer, certain genetic conditions, and Asian ancestry. There are no routine screening tests for thyroid cancer. Standard treatments for thyroid cancer include surgery, radiation therapy (including radioactive iodine therapy), chemotherapy, thyroid hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

        –Cancer dot gov, today

        Physicians are fairly clueless about what else could account for this mysterious rise in incidence. Exposure to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986 and radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s have long been linked to thyroid cancer, but they would not account for all the new cases. –NY Times