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Re:trefoil origins

The three-bladed radiation warning symbol, as we currently know it, was

"doodled" out at the University of California Radiation Laboratory in

Berkeley sometime in 1946 by a small group of people. This event was

described in a letter written in 1952 by Nels Garden, head of the Health

Chemistry Group at the Radiation Laboratory: "A number of people in the

group took an interest in suggesting different motifs, and the one arousing

the most interest was a design which was supposed to represent activity

radiating from an atom."

The first signs printed at Berkeley had a magenta (Martin Senour Roman

Violet No. 2225) symbol on a blue background. In an earlier letter written

in 1948, Garden explained why this particular shade of magenta color was

selected: "it was distinctive and did not conflict with any color code that

we were familiar with. Another factor in its favor was its cost. . . The

high cost will deter others from using this color promiscuously."

Explaining the blue background, he said, "The use of a blue background was

selected because there is very little blue color used in most of the areas

where radioactive work would be carried out."

Garden did not like yellow as a background: "the very fact that . . . the

high visibility yellow stands out most prominently has led to extensive use

of this color



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