This chapter reflects on the ‘half-life’ of radioisotopes in biology and medicine, stressing that their ubiquity in laboratories and clinics derived from the U.S. government’s policy of promoting atomic energy during the early Cold War. The consumption of radioisotopes is now waning, as many biologists have shifted to the use of non-radioactive tracers, although some radioisotopes (especially technetium-99m) remain important to medical diagnosis. The AEC’s radioisotope supply not only affected postwar research and clinical practice, but also involved the U.S. government in the regulation of scientists, an enduring legacy.
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