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September 7, 1940

Current Comment

JAMA. 1940;115(10):862-863. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810360050017

MEDICAL APPLICATIONS OF "ATOM SMASHING"  Radioactivity has already contributed enormously to medical progress. Now it seems rational to believe that the consequences of "atom smashing" may further affect medicine in numerous ways. As pointed out by Solomon,1 the new radioactive elements cannot be administered to human beings just as they come from the cyclotron or from any other atom smasher but must first be purified and then synthesized into some compound which is easily taken into the body. The possibilities of use, however, are illustrated by the fact that of the ninety-two known stable elements eighty-seven may be made radioactive artificially. Furthermore, they possess half-lives which are short in comparison with that of radium. Thus the intensity of radiation of radioactive phosphorus, for example, diminishes by half in the course of fourteen days. Obviously if some substance such as radioactive phosphorus proves to be therapeutically effective in any disease,

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