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FRIDAY,. JANUARY I, 1958 Atomic Energy Works To Save Human Lives Note: Ten years after the first successful atomic chain reaction, science is applying atomic energy to peaceful pursuits ranging from cancer research to fertilize*. Progress so far, and some .intriguing prospects, are reported below In the third of a series of four articles on atomic energy.) By FRANK E. CAREY AP Science Reporter WASHINGTON ift ~ A man suffering from a late-stage brain tumor k lowered Inio a special ^chamber nlop the huge atomic ^anergy "furnace" at Brookhaven, N. y. Powerful rays, genernled by the atomic inferno and guardedly released through a tiny porthole, are brought to bear on his malignant growth—with a promising chance'of prolonging his life. Out in Wisconsin, a farmer counts receipts from one of the best corn crops he's ever had thanks to a hot tip lie got from atomic scientists abnut a different way of applying fertilizer. In a hospital in Boston, a woman sips an "atomic cocktail" containing radioactive iodine which may help rid her of spreading outgrowths of a thyroid cancer removed by surgery. In all probability, the cocktail will at least prolong her life' and make her more comfortable. These are examples of atomic energy at work in the humanitarian service of "man in tills month that marks the 10th anniversary of the actual daivn of the atomic age. It was in December 1942, that man first demonstrated a sustained atomic chain reaction. In medicine, in agriculture and in industry there Is tangible evidence that the titanic force later _ loosed upon Hiroshima in the v^$rm of an atomic bomb can be •^inployed to serve man as well as kill him. Progress Summer! Up Gordon Dean, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, summed up progress thus way in response to a query whether atomic energy has lived up to the great expectation' people had for it at first: "I recall some rather sensational predictions made for atomic energy back around the time it first became knowledge....Bui if you will look at the statements mode by our leading nnd most responsible scientists about that time. I think you will find that atomic energy has measured up to their estimates. "We ought to remember one thing: Atomic energy has never existed in times we call 'normal.' 11 was born in time of war ami ft has grown up.in n period of International tension and mobilization. The emphasis, consequently, has been on weapons. In this area' I believe that progress has ceeded expectations. "On the productive— as opposed to the destructive—side, progress has been slower, but it has still been -substantial....The surface has hardly been scratched in these fc fields, but in the past few years mony hundreds of people have been trained nnd much knowledge has been accumulated. Progress should speed up accordingly. It was a long road from Banjamin Franklin's kite to the modern TV set..,.The road ahead looks promising indeed." Scientists say now there Is definite hope for powering submarines, ocean liners and aircraft with atomic energy—and harnessing the a'om for electric power and manufacturing In the not too far future. May Help Incurable But some scientists say [hat radioactive isotopes, whose manufacture is centered in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, may someday yield benefits to man that would overshadow ,even the harnessing of atomic power for propulsion and manufacturing. They spenk of the hope—born of a few pioneering experiments so for—that the use of such materials ns "tracers" In the human body may help solve the riddle of the processes involved in cancer, diabeies, heart disease and .. others among; man's greatest af- R'jIlcUons. The atomic tracers Send out signals which help scientists study or measure hidden processes. Scientists speak of tiny steps of progress already marie with tracer isotopes towards solving the mystery of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use the sun's energy to build up the plant tissue Ihaf animals and men depend upon for food. If man could duplicate tms process arlifically, the problem of feeding the world's hungry millions would truly be solved overnight. Atomic researchers also say it may be possible to produce more powerful and effective drugs, insecticides, weed-killers, and plnnl growth promoters through chemical research aided by radioactive tracers. They even hav« hop* Hint atomic "rays"—from Isotopes or other sources—may eventually bs employed to produce strains of plants resistant'to disease, drought and other hazards. But what has actually be«n accomplished so far in using the atom In medicine, agriculture-arid industry? Here's the record: Medicine— In addition to tracers, ceveral isotopes have been used In t direct treatment of a few dlseas. That Is, the rays from th« materials havs been employed somewhat like X-ray to attack diseased tissue or cells. Radioactive Iodine Is being used to treat certain cases of thyroid cancer and of overactlve thyroid. Only a few outright cures have been claimed In the cancer cases, but most patient's receiving the treatment are reported to get "real value'' from it in terms of feeling better and possible prolongation of life. Approximately 95 per cent of overactive thyroid cases can be controlled by the use of radioactive iodine, doctors say. Radioactive phosphorus h% s proved useful in the treatment of certain cases of leukemia. American researchers are also talking about some ingenious methods developed by the British for bringing radiogold and other Isotopes to bear against cancers. One such technique involves use of a device that looks like a youngster's water pistol for "seeding" bladder tumors with polled of radiogold. Another involves inserting a deflated haloon fnto the bladder and then inflating it with solution of radioactive sodium and radioactive bromine. ' ' Substitute for Radium Radioactive cobalt, a relatively inexpensive substitute for radium, has been fabricated by American scientists Into a "wire" that Is "threaded" around the contours of a deep-seated cancer. Top atomic doctors say "the fascinating" use of atomic energy In the treatment of cancer ts the effort by researchers at the Atomic Energy Commission's Brooklmven, N. Y., plant 'to exploit neutron rays from their atomic fnrnnce as a weapon against brain tumors. Scientists will say only that results have been promising. Agriculfure— Research with radioactive tracer isotopes, such as phosphorus, has enabled' scientists to trace nutrients through soil, Into roots and thence, through plants. Thus, they've been able to determine at what stage in its growing cycle the plant needs fertilizer most; to know where and how fertilizer should be placed to give the plants the maximum benefit; and to establish. wh.it kinds of fertilizers work best in the country's varied soils. , While this fertilizer researches the only really practical payoff so far in the agricultural end of (he atomic business, scientists are hot on the trail of other leads. For example, there's a good chance that atomic radiation, directed against certain plant seeds, might result in the development of plants having greater yields of produce and increased resistance to disease. Industry— Radioactive isotopes nre in rather wide use in the metals and related industries as a means oi detecting flaws in casts and welds. They are being employed in the paper, rubber, aluminum and plastics industries to provide thickness gauges for products under process. For example, a radioactive Isotope is placed above a sheet of paper being processed through a machine, and a Geiger counter is placed beneath the sheet. If the thickness of the paper varies from point lo point, the Qeiger counter will show it. Radioactive isotopes are also being used to locate leaks in pipes encases in mnsonry—thus sparing extensive tear-down Jobs. They're also being employed in research designed to produce bel- ter lubricants, improved automobile tires and other products. And the Navy is even making dirt radioactive in a quest for Improved laundry soaps and detergents'! 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