[ RadSafe ] Fwd: New Book: A Short History of Nuclear Folly

Rees, Brian G brees at lanl.gov
Tue May 28 11:25:48 CDT 2013

And at least one of the Pts. In the US who received a pu-238 powered pacemaker is still alive, with the pacemaker still working!  The pacemakers were analog, with discreet components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) visible in the potting - amazing (now)! 

Brian Rees

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu [mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Chris Alston
Sent: Tuesday, May 28, 2013 12:07 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: [ RadSafe ] Fwd: New Book: A Short History of Nuclear Folly


Absolutely.  And there was nothing "boneheaded" about the pacemakers,
that I can see.  Pts lived for decades with those devices, and
essentially no maintenance beyond routine office visits (OV) to their
cardiologists.  (Please note, I don't know how often the leads moved,
and the pts needed a fairly invasive procedure to correct that, but
that would not have been a problem specific to nuclear-powered, as
opposed to chemically-powered batteries.)

Also, we should be clear that we are discussing Pu-238, in this
context, not the weapons material, Pu-239.  The t1/2 is 88 y, not
24,000 y.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: KARAM, PHILIP <ANDREW.KARAM at nypd.org>

I'm assuming that the "implanting plutonium into patients' hearts"
refers to plutonium-powered pacemakers - another idea that seemed to
be reasonable at the time since it meant that the rudimentary
pacemakers of the day wouldn't need additional surgery to replace

To me the question isn't about the soundness (or stupidity) of this
work as we see it today so much as the intent of those proposing the
projects in light of what they knew at the time. In the Plowshares
Program and the plutonium-powered pacemakers I see programs that were
well-intentioned based on what we knew at the time - I guess we could
call them "noble blunders."

And then there are plenty of other things that are just boneheaded....

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