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October 6, 1951

Radiochemical Studies: The Fission Products.

JAMA. 1951;147(6):614. doi:10.1001/jama.1951.03670230080038

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These three volumes, though essentially chemical in content, combine the fascination of a detective story with that of a necropsy, for they describe the means used to identify what remains after uranium nuclei have been disrupted by fission, whether in an atomic bomb or in a chain-reacting pile. In 336 papers and four appendixes, the technics and results of these identifications are given. In Paper 185, for example, Newton, Kant, and Hein review certain facts suggesting the presence of an isotope of praseodymium; the necessary chemical work then proceeds according to plan, and it yields a substance with a half-life of only 17.5 minutes. Although the quantity is small, it suffices to establish the properties of this evanescent material.

This new chemistry has opened up enormous fields of research, and it will be a long time before all the possible applications in medicine can be explored. Adding to the interest

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