Medicine and the Bomb. Deceptions from Trinity to Maralinga
Paul Langley on July 22nd, 2012
Cover photograph: The artificial aurora created by the high altitude nuclear weapon test named “Starfish Prime”. Part of the Operation Fishbowl test series, Starfish Prime was detonated 400 kilometers above Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean. The test took place on 9 July 1962. Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory Donald M. Kerr Gallery. Used with permission with thanks.
“The information is superb and very understandable for someone with minimal physics / medical background – and excellent referencing. It is a fine reference and resource work -and your bringing together the early nuclear medicine research and subsequent knowledge of this within the atomic bomb project is a first.” – Dr. David Palmer, American Studies, Flinders University of South Australia.
“Langley provides detailed historical documentation of how medical investigation of ionizing radiation conducted before the war was appropriated for wartime purposes. His careful analysis demonstrates that Manhattan project participants were cognizant that the human casualties of the atomic bomb would far exceed the direct damage caused by its explosive force.
Langley’s findings are also disturbing because they demonstrate that after the war the US Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) had conclusive information based on the research of Dr. J. G. Hamilton about the dangers of radiation on human health – particularly from internalized alpha and beta emitters –and yet the AEC persisted in trivializing the radiological effects of atmospheric testing by equating all forms of radiation with “sunshine.”
Nowhere else will the reader find such a well-documented account of the use and abuse of research on the biological effects of radiation conducted from the 1930s through World War II.” – Majia Holmer Nadesan, Professor, Division of Social and Behavioral Studies, PO Box 37100, Arizona State University West Campus Phoenix, AZ 85069-7100
“Dear Paul, I read your book. It is fantastic. It is an extraordinary inquiry. I think your book is unique: that no comparable analysis has ever been done. It could become a classic, as you qualify the book of Brucer. We sometimes qualify as “bible” the reference books that contain a huge quantity of informations! So is your book!” – Evelyne Cerf-Pecher, daughter of Dr Charles Pecher.
Phosphorous 32, Strontium 89 and Iodine 131 were first synthesized in the 1930s at the E.O. Lawrence Crocker Radiation Laboratory, University of California. The substances were used in nuclear medicine by the Crocker researchers.
These substances were later found to be created by the fission process. Neutron radiation was used medically by Dr Robert Stone in 1937, also at the Lawrence facility.
The United States entered World War 2 possessing detailed medical and biological knowledge related to these radioactive substances, some of which would become infamous among the peoples afflicted by the atomic bomb.
This book looks at the findings of the early researchers at the Lawrence “Rad Lab” and places these findings together with the discoveries relating to uranium fission and the fission products. The militarization of civilian medical and biological data commenced some years before the formation of the Manhattan Project.
The book discusses this process and follows the progress of the knowledge, which was classified secret.
Japanese, South Pacific and Australian Indigenous victim experiences are examined in the light of knowledge held since the 1930s by nuclear authorities.
The biological, radiological and medical data relating to strontium 89 was developed by Dr Charles Pecher, who died tragically in 1941. His work was classified secret after his death and formed a major component of the secret studies into the effects of nuclear fallout.
The secret dangers of Strontium 89 and the suppression of Dr Pecher’s medical treatment are examined in this book.
The work is a unique, extensively referenced, study of the development of the radiological predictive capability possessed by the Western Allies from 1942, through the era of atmospheric nuclear testing.