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September 12, 1959


Author Affiliations

U. S. Army

Commanding Officer, Surgical Research Unit, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

JAMA. 1959;171(2):205-208. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.73010200028014h

The advent of nuclear weapons not only has introduced a means by which massively large explosive power may be attained but also has given the general public its baptism of fear of ionizing radiation—a fleeting, unseen, unfelt messenger of death. This new and poorly understood phenomenon has so capitivated the minds of the public, as well as of many students, that they have overlooked the fact that thermal and mechanical trauma will be of much greater importance in a nuclear explosion of any large magnitude and, furthermore, that there is some hope of medical care being given for these types of trauma, while there is not yet any specific practical therapy for ionizing radiation.

These statements are supported by data on the portions of the total explosive energy in nuclear explosions which are delivered as a blast (50%), initial ionizing radiation (5%), residual ionizing radiation (fall-out) (10%), and thermal radiation