Effects of Radiation: Cell Biology & Cancer Research (1952)

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This 1952 Encyclopedia Britannica film gives an interesting overview of the kind of tests scientists of plant cell biology conducted at that time regarding radiation’s effect on plant and animal biology. This was during the birth of nuclear science, and so of course all the possible applications were being explored, sometimes with experiments that today are considered horrible. The tests themselves are explained and the radiation safety measures protecting the experimenters is touched upon as well. The effects of exposure to radiation are the chief topics for discussion. Antiquated footage of researchers handling nuclear charged rods and infusing corn with nuclear radiation are not to be missed! The positive applications of radiation are also explored, mainly in the area of cancer research. Medical radiation therapy was one of the chief areas of research that the government was promoting in order to make nuclear power and energy seem more benevolent than atomic bombs. Cancer treatment radiation therapy persists today, of course, but many of the other applications dreamed up before have fallen by the wayside as too dangerous. This film is a nice chapter in the history of science and scientific discovery.

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