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Life AtomicA History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine$
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Angela N. H. Creager

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226017808

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226017945.001.0001

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(p.24) Chapter Two Cyclotrons
Life Atomic

Angela N. H. Creager

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on developments in E. O. Lawrence’s Radiation Laboratory to illustrate the cyclotron-based system of radioisotope production. By 1940, biomedical uses of radioisotopes involved collaboration between physical scientists as providers and life scientists and physicians as users, a “moral economy” of gift exchange and shared credit. In Berkeley, biological research with sodium-24, phosphorus-32, and iodine-131 as tracers was connected to therapeutic experiments using these radioisotopes. The militarization of work in Lawrence’s Berkeley laboratory in the early 1940s constrained the availability of radioisotopes to physicians and scientists outside the Radiation Laboratory. In addition, new military priorities shaped the ongoing human experiments conducted by Lawrence’s colleagues (such as John Lawrence and Joseph Hamilton), as they began investigating the toxicity and metabolism of fission products for the Manhattan Project.

Keywords:   Cyclotrons, Berkeley, Manhattan Project, Radiation Laboratory, E. O. Lawrence, John Lawrence, Joseph Hamilton, Phosphorus-32, Sodium-24

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