DOE Openness: Human Radiation Experiments: Roadmap to the Project
(1)Dr. Petersen has worked at Los Alamos since 1956, originally in Group H-4, Radiobiology (later renamed Bio-Medical Research) under Wright Langham. From 1964 to 1981, he served successively as the Cell Biology Section Leader and Group Leader, Alternate Health Division Leader, and Acting Life Sciences Division Leader. Since 1981 he has been the Program Manager for the Chemical and Biological Program. For the transcript of the November 29, 1994 interview with Petersen, see DOE/EH-0460, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Cell Biologist Don Francis Petersen, Ph.D. (August 1995).
(2)originally Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, a key research and development center for the Manhattan Project. Nuclear bombs were assembled there before and during the Cold War. It has been a research and development center for nuclear weapon designs. Renamed Los Alamos National Laboratory, it is now a part of the U.S. Department of Energy, operated by the University of California.
(8)In a May 1947 reorganization, the research functions of the Health Group became the responsibility of a new group, H-4 (Radiobiology), under the direction of Wright Langham. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, research with human subjects at Los Alamos was limited to tritium studies. The human subjects were researchers in Group H-4. In 1949, the group's name was changed to Bio-Medical Research. By 1972, H-4 had grown to 70 staff members working in molecular biology, cellular radiobiology, mammalian biology, biophysics, veterinary biology, and pathology.
(13)an instrument used in the laboratory to measure photons, a quantum of electromagnetic radiation, usually considered as an elementary particle that is its own antiparticle and that has zero rest mass and charge and a spin of one
(20)Dr. Clarence C. Lushbaugh, M.D., Ph.D.H-4 staff member from 1949 to 1963. Chief Scientist of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1963 to 1975, and Chairman of the Medical and Health Sciences Division at Oak Ridge, 1975 to 1984. For the transcript of the interview with Lushbaugh, see DOE/EH-0453, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Pathologist Clarence Lushbaugh, M.D. (April 1995).
(24)the first of three series of nuclear weapon tests conducted at the Pacific Test Range. Operation Greenhouse included four tests detonated between April 7 and May 24, 1951, from towers at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The only confirmed blast yield was for Shot Easy, said to be in the 47-kiloton range (Source: U.S. Nuclear Tests, July 1945 Through December 1988; U.S. Department of Energy Nevada Operations Office; September 1989).
(27)HUMCO I was the first whole-body radiation counter that became operational at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1956; the sensitivity and noninvasiveness of this new instrument permitted studies at levels 10 to 100 times below established limits of exposure. It opened an entire area of clinical diagnosis and the development of new diagnostic methods, mostly by Lushbaugh.
(34)During World War II, the University of Chicago ran a toxicity laboratory for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps to conduct research in chemical warfare. From 1948 until 1951, the Atomic Energy Commission used the facility for radiological warfare research. In 1948, the AEC worked with the Army and the university on a research program for the laboratory that focused on the poisonous effects of radiation exposure. Animal research was conducted on the local effects and general toxicity of radioisotopes considered for use as radiological warfare agents.
(36)From 1944 to 1962, Los Alamos conducted 254 open-air implosion physics tests in nearby Bayo Canyon. The purpose of the program was to test weapons designs using conventional high explosives and radioactive lanthanum (RaLa), a short-lived but intense radiation source. Tests were performed specifically to diagnose material motion and compression through high-speed x-ray photographs of the earliest moments of the implosion. The sources involved contained quantities ranging from around one hundred to several thousand curies of lanthanum-140.
(40)Joseph Hamilton, an M.D., worked at Crocker Laboratory, then the site of a 60-inch cyclotron that he operated to produce radioisotopes in support of research and some medical diagnosis and treatment.
(42)For the transcript of the interview with Voelz, see DOE/EH-0454, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. George Voelz, M.D. (May 1995)
(43)After med school, Voelz served at Los Alamos under Dr. Thomas Shipman, the Health Division leader. Voelz's initial year was part of an in-plant training program for the practical application of industrial medicine. He stayed on for another three and a half years in a staff position in the Application Medicine Group at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory.
(44)Created in 1949 as the National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS), INEL has served as the test site for prototypes of many reactor designs in wide use today. INEL now operates the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) for engineering studies, and focuses on waste disposal and remediation technology.
(45)Hempelmann was a group leader in the Health Division at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory from 1943 to 1947, and led the division from 1946 to 1948. An expert in radiology and radiobiology, Hempelmann served in the Atomic Energy Commission from 1948 to 1950, then joined the faculty of the University of Rochester.
(47)Formed in a May 1947 reorganization, the "H" or Health Division had responsibility for a much broader range of health activities than its predecessor, the Health Group (Group A-10). These responsibilities included radiological safety, health physics, and industrial health. The H Division also monitored exposures and was responsible for safety for all weapons tests conducted by the Laboratory.
(51)U.S. physicist, 190158; a pioneer in nuclear physics who built and operated (with M. Stanley Livingston and Milton White) the first cyclotron in 1930 on the Berkeley campus of the University of California; established the University of California Radiation Laboratory in 1936 and served as its director until his death. His ingenuity and drive made the Berkeley-based Radiation Laboratory the unofficial capital of nuclear physics in the United States.
(54)Metallurgical Laboratory, the laboratory set up at the University of Chicago during World War II to lead the secret research and development of controlled nuclear fission under the Manhattan Project; in particular, the design of reactor facilities and the chemical separation of uranium, plutonium, and fission products from irradiated nuclear fuels
(55)a professor of Radiology at the University of Rochester (Rochester, New York), site of research involving plutonium and human subjects. Dr. Warren worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge as head of the medical section and headed an Intramedical Advisory Committee. After World War II, he became dean of the University of California, Los Angeles Medical School.
(58)During World War II, the Manhattan Project had built a vast complex of highly classified facilities in and near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to process uranium for use in atomic bombs. The Atomic Energy Commission assumed control of these facilities upon its creation and, today, they belong to the Department of Energy.
(59)From 1951 to 1977, Durbin worked as a chemist and radiobiologist at the Crocker Laboratory of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory). For the transcript of the November, 11, 1994 interview with Durbin, see DOE/EH-0458, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Dr. Patricia Wallace Durbin, Ph.D. (June 1995).
(61)On January 17, 1966, an accident occured between two U.S. Air Force jet aircraft: a KC-135 tanker and a B-52 bomber carrying four thermonuclear weapons. Two of the weapons were found intact. The other two experienced non-nuclear explosions that resulted in the release of some fissile fuel and some burning. The United States and Spain, in a joint effort, performed remedial actions and instigated a long-term program to monitor the cleanup.
(65)(1908), Hungarian-born refugee physicist and the "Father of the Hydrogen Bomb." In the early 1980s, Teller became the leading proponent of advanced strategic defenses (which he argued should be based on nuclear weapons) as morally preferable to offensive, retaliation-based deterrence.
(66)The 1954 decision to revoke Oppenheimer's clearance polarized the scientific community, large segments of which ostracized Edward Teller, who was seen has having abetted that action, for many years.
(67)From early in the Manhattan Project, friction developed and grew between Teller and Oppenheimer. Teller favored development of the hydrogen bomb; Oppenheimer opposed it. After World War II, Oppenheimer's strength of reputation in the scientific community came to be seen as a major threat by H-bomb proponents. In July 1954, the AEC revoked his security clearance. Teller, who led the U.S. development of the hydrogen bomb, presented views critical of Oppenheimer that contributed to the AEC decision. However, the decision in the complex matter, in which no security lapses by Oppenheimer were ever proven, has come to be widely regarded as less a result of objective deliberation than of differences over early Cold War national security policy, professional rivalry, and personal animosity. Oppenheimer's pre-war associations with Communist front groups dogged him through the war years. Oppenheimer also challenged a broader national security policy at a critical time. Speaking before the Council on Foreign Relations in February 1953, he opposed the emergent U.S. nuclear retaliatory deterrent policy on practical and moral grounds, favoring instead a defensive strategy. This position exacerbated friction with proponents of the H-bomb, by then at the center of scientific influence on national security policy once occupied by Oppenheimer.When the Soviets detonated their first hydrogen bomb in August 1953, the event accelerated the development of U.S. nuclear weapons and cast Oppenheimer in the position of having contributed to earlier paralysis in decision making. Sources: John Major, The Oppenheimer Hearing, Stein and Day, New York, 1971; and Peter Goodchild, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Shatterer of Worlds, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1981.
(68)AEC Chairman Strauss is reported to have determined to punish Oppenheimer for having opposed him, in scathing terms, during testimony favoring the export of radioactive isotopes in 1949. Oppenheimer's 1953 speech before the Council on Foreign Relations (discussed in preceding footnote) further focused opposition to him in the AEC. Strauss, known for his politically conservative views, initiated the hearing on Oppenheimer's clearance and approved the decision. In 1959, Strauss was nominated by President Eisenhower to be Secretary of Commerce. Two Los Alamos scientists testified in opposition, citing three cases, including Oppenheimer's, in which they said Strauss had abused the AEC security program to punish employees who opposed his views. Strauss's nomination was barely reported out of committee and was defeated in a vote of the full U.S. Senate. Sources: Major, ibid., and Goodchild, ibid.
(73)an American chemist who researched physical, inorganic, and nuclear chemistry and radiochemistry. He worked at Los Alamos in the late '40s and early '50s and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960 for the discovery of radiocarbon datingthe practice of measuring the ratio of radiocarbon to stable carbon to establish the approximate age of an artifact, region, etc.
(74)a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) based in Santa Monica, California. RAND analysts are called on by the Department of Defense and other Government agencies to analyze complex technical and interdisciplinary problems; RAND was the prime contractor for the Greenhouse project that Willard Libby started.
(75)Ernest Carl Anderson was a physical chemist who worked at the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory during the Manhattan Project, 194244, and then at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Dr. Anderson received the AEC's E.O. Lawrence Award in 1966. He conducted research in natural radiocarbon, liquid scintillation counters, low-level radioactivity measurements, and cellular biochemistry. He also designed the HUMCO II, an improved version of the first whole-body counter, HUMCO I.
(78)Project Sunshine was initiated by the AEC in response to the urgent need for radiation biomedical information. The Project began as an evaluation of the hazards associated with nuclear war and grew into a worldwide investigation of radioactive fallout levels in the environment and in human beings.
(79)Dr. Randolph Lovelace was the director of the Lovelace Foundation and Hospital in Albuquerque. He was intimately involved in the clinical aspects of health and well-being of workers involved in overpressure tests.
(82)From 1955 to 1958, Richmond was an assistant, then a staff member, at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In 1958, Dr. Richmond was appointed to the staff of the Atomic Energy CommissionDivision of Biology and Medicine in Washington, D.C., where he remained until returning to LASL in 1971 to head the Biomedical Research Group. For the transcript of the January 24, 1995 interview with Richmond, see DOE/EH-0477, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Radiobiologist Chet Richmond, Ph.D. (August 1995).
(83)a series of chemical compounds that scintillate when irradiated. The use of one oxazoleterphenylfor scintillation counting was pioneered at Los Alamos in the '50s. Terphenyl remains a staple for scintillation counters.
(89)For the transcript of the interview with Cohn, see DOE/EH-0464, Human Radiation Studies: Remembering the Early Years; Oral History of Biochemist Waldo E. Cohn, Ph.D. (June 1995).
(94)The hot particle project arose in response to a concern that, if a nuclear-powered rocket would abort before leaving the atmosphere, particles of plutonium would rain down to earth, be inhaled, and and lodge in people's lungs. The project is discussed at length in "Dr. Langham's Postwar Studies of Plutonium" in the Petersen transcript (DOE/EH-0460).
(96)For the transcript of the interview with Gamertsfelder, see DOE/EH-0467 (September 1995).
(97)Grilly is referring to the Rover experiments, a research and development program initiated by the AEC and the U.S. Air Force in 1957 to develop nuclear rocket propulsion. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) replaced the Air Force as cosponsor in 1960. AEC had responsibility for the nuclear aspects of the program. AEC work was assigned to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and Lawrence Radiation Laboratory; field experimentation was conducted at Jackass Flats, Nevada. The Kiwi series of experimental reactors was part of Project Rover. The relatively long development lead time associated with nuclear rocket propulsion caused the program to lose funding priority to chemical rockets in the 1960s. Source: Linda Neuman Ezell, NASA Historical Data Book, Vol. II: Programs and Projects 19581988; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Washington, D.C.; 1988; p. 473.
(98)On January 21, 1968, a B-52 airplane from the U.S. Strategic Air Command crashed in Bylot Sound, 7 miles (11 kilometers) west of Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. Due to the impact of the plane, the chemical explosive in the four unarmed nuclear weapons onboard the aircraft detonated, causing the release of kilograms of plutonium into the environment.
(105)Los Alamos Medium Energy Physics Facility, an accelerator facility that has been used in a number of studies to investigate the potential for accelerated particles in cancer therapy. Construction was completed in the early '70s. The clinical part of the studies was conducted by the University of New Mexico. Dr. Mort Kligerman, who directed the university's Tumor Registry, served as the principal investigator. Patients were selected by the university nationwide for the clinical trial, received clinical workups at the university, then came to LAMPF for their radiation treatment.
(106)A meson is a fundamental particle of matter. A meson facility is an accelerator used for causing atomic collisions that produce pi mesons for therapy applications and other scientific investigations in high-energy physics.
(109)Pi mesons (or pions) are subatomic particles responsible for the strong interactions between protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei. Mesons occur in pairs, and are liberated during the high-energy bombardment in accelerators. They have very high energy (140 MeV to 10,000 MeV) and are short-lived. Researchers have used pi mesons for cancer therapy with some success. See "Pion Irradiation Therapy at Los Alamos (1974)" in the Voelz transcript (DOE/EH-0454), May 1995.
(111)one of three clinical facilities created by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1948. While the AEC owned the 58-bed Chicago hospital, the University of Chicago medical school administered and staffed the facility. Patients were admitted on a selective basis: physicians chose persons whose condition best suited the hospital's research and treatment applications. The hospital admitted its first patient in January 1953. The Energy Research and Development Administration terminated Government support for Argonne and the other AEC-created research hospitals in 1974, three years after the hospital's name was changed to the Franklin McLean Institute. The facilities are now used by the university's medical school for studies in radiology and hematology.
(112)Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, established in 1946 by the Manhattan Engineer District and operated under a Manhattan Project (and later Atomic Energy Commission) contract. ORINS was responsible for training physicians and researchers in the safe handling of radioisotopes and in the development of isotope applications in medicine. A research hospital the Medical Division at ORINS. One of three AEC-supported hospitals, the facility had approximately 30 beds for people with certain types of cancer.
(117)R. Lowry Dobson, Ph.D., M.D., a physician who was born in Beijing, China, in 1919 and became a U.S. citizen. He was a research fellow at Donner Laboratory and Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (at UC Berkeley) and was chief medical officer until 1958. Additionally, he was a senior scientist in the Biomedical Sciences Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, conducting research on the health effects of exposure to environmental agents, radiation, and internal radionuclides.
(118)Shields Warren, M.D., was Chief Pathologist at New England Deaconess Hospital and Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. He joined the U.S. Navy Medical Department in 1939 and wrote with others on what was then known about radiation during World War II. Dr. Warren served on the first U.S. team to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki after they were bombed with atomic weapons and was involved in creating what became the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission. He was the first director of the AEC's Division of Biology and Medicine and, later, established his own cancer research institute at New England Deaconess Hospital.