Nuclear History :
Wilhelm Rontgen discovers x-rays. The world immediately appreciates their
medical potential. Within five years, for example, the British Army is using a
mobile x-ray unit to locate bullets and shrapnel in wounded soldiers in the
Henri Becquerel discovers the emission of rays by uranium.
J.J. Thomson discovers the electron.
Pierre and Marie Curie discover the first radioactive elements: radium and
Henri Alexandre Danlos and Eugene Bloch place radium in contact with a
tuberculous skin lesion.
Rutherford and Soddy establish the theory of nuclear reactions.
Alexander Graham Bell suggests placing sources containing radium in or near
Albert Einstein develops theory about the relationship of mass and energy:
George von Hevesy conceives the idea of using radioactive tracers. This idea is
later applied to, among other things, medical diagnosis.
Niels Bohr introduces the first atom model, the mini solar system.
Frederick Proescher publishes the first study on the intravenous injection of
radium for therapy of various diseases.
Georg de Hevesy, J.A. Christiansen and Sven Lomholt perform the first
radiotracer (lead-210 and bismuth-210) studies in animals.
Herman Blumgart, a Boston physician, first uses radioactive tracers to diagnose
Walther Bothe and Herbert Becker in Germany, Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie in
France, and James Chadwick in the United Kingdom conduct a series of experiments
which culminate in Chadwick's discovery of the neutron.
Ernest O. Lawrence and M. Stanley Livingston publish the first article on
"the production of high speed light ions without the use of high
voltages." It is a milestone in the production of usable quantities of
Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie discover artificial radioactivity.
John H. Lawrence, the brother of Ernest, makes the first clinical therapeutic
application of an artificial radionuclide when he uses phosphorus-32 to treat
John Livingood, Fred Fairbrother and Glenn Seaborg discover iron-59. 1938 John
Livingood and Glenn Seaborg discover iodine-131 and cobalt-60 - all isotopes
currently used in nuclear medicine.
Two German scientists, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman, demonstrate nuclear
Halban, Frederic Joliot-Curie and Kowarski demonstrate that fission of uranium
can cause a chain reaction. They take a first patent on the production of
Emilio Segre and Glenn Seaborg discover technetium-99m - an isotope currently
used in nuclear medicine.
The Rockefeller Foundation funds the first cyclotron dedicated for biomedical
radioisotope production at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Manhattan Project is formed to secretly build the atomic bomb before the
Fermi demonstrates the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction in a lab at
the University of Chicago.
The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan
Samuel M. Seidlin, Leo D. Marinelli and Eleanor Oshry treat a patient with
thyroid cancer with iodine-131, an "atomic cocktail."
Benedict Cassen uses radioiodine to determine whether a thyroid nodule
accumulates iodine, helping to differentiate benign from malignant nodules.
Nuclear chain reaction achieved in ZOE, the first French atomic pile in Fort de
Abbott Laboratories begins distribution of radioistopes.
K.R. Crispell and John P. Storaasli use iodine-131 labeled human serum albumin (RISA)
for imaging the blood pool within the heart.
Electricity from nuclear energy first produced in the US (100 kilowatts) in
Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 (EBR1) at the National Reactor Station, later
called the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve sodium iodide 1-131 for use
with thyroid patients. It is the first FDA-approved radiopharmaceutical.
Operations begin at the Savannah River Plant in Aiken, South Carolina with the
startup of the heavy water plant.
In his Atoms for Peace speech, President Eisenhower proposes joint international
cooperation to develop peaceful applications of nuclear energy.
Gordon Brownell and H.H. Sweet build a positron detector based on the detection
of annihilation photons by means of coincidence counting.
The first nuclear submarine, Nautilus, is launched.
First nuclear power plant begins operation in the Obninsk Scientific Center,
Russia (5 megawatts).
David Kuhl invents a photorecording system for radionuclide scanning. This
development moves nuclear medicine further in the direction of radiology.
President Dwight Eisenhower signs Atomic Energy Act, opening door to private use
of nuclear energy.
Arco, Idaho becomes the first U.S. town to be powered by nuclear energy.
Rex Huff measures the cardiac output in man using iodine-131 human serum
G1, first French nuclear power plant begins operation in Marcoule (5 megawatts).
The United States sets off first underground nuclear test in a mountain tunnel
in the remote desert 100 miles from Las Vegas.
Radiation is released when the graphite core of the Windscale nuclear reactor in
England catches fire.
The first U.S. large-scale nuclear power plant begins operating in Shippingport,
Hal Anger invents the "scintillation camera," an imaging device that
made it possible to conduct dynamic studies.
USSR approves potato and grain irradiation.
The Dresden-1 Nuclear Power Station in Illinois achieves a self-sustaining
nuclear reaction. It's the first U.S. nuclear power plant built entirely without
First fast breeder reactor begins operation in the Obninsk Scientific Center,
Russia (12 megawatts).
Louis G. Stang, Jr., and Powell (Jim) Richards advertise technetium-99m and
other generators for sale by Brookhaven National Laboratory. Technetium-99m had
not yet been used in nuclear medicine.
Canada approves potato irradiation.
The Atomic Energy Commission announces the successful development of a 220-pound
nuclear reactor designed to provide electric power for space vehicles.
David Kuhl introduces emission reconstruction tomography. This method later
became known as SPECT and PET. It was extended in radiology to transmission
X-ray scanning, known as CT.
The United States and Soviet Union sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which
prohibits underwater, atmospheric, and outer space nuclear tests. More than 100
countries have ratified the treaty since 1963.
The FDA exempts the "new drug" requirements for radiopharmaceuticals
regulated by the Atomic Energy Commission.
Henry Wagner first uses radiolabeled albumin aggregates for imaging lung
perfusion in normal persons and patients with pulmonary embolism.
U.S. FDA approves irradiated bacon, wheat, and wheat flour and potatoes.
U.S. FDA approves flexible packaging materials of food as contaminants during
The world's first nuclear powered lighthouse, the "Baltimore Light,"
on the Chesapeake Bay in Md., goes into operation. A 60-watt radioisotope
nuclear generator, 345 inches high, weighing 4,600 pounds, supplies a continuous
flow of electricity for 10 years without refueling.
The large number of utility orders for nuclear power reactors makes nuclear
power a commercial reality in the United States.
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)--calling for halting the spread of nuclear
weapons capabilities--is signed. By 1970, more than 50 countries had ratified
the NPT. By 1986, more than 130 countries had ratified it.
C.L. Edwards reports the accumulation of gallium-67 in cancer.$nbsp; In 1970 The
FDA announces that it will gradually withdraw the exemption granted to
radiopharmaceuticals and start regulating them as drugs. The change would be
completed by Jan. 20, 1977.
The American Medical Association officially recognizes nuclear medicine as a
Computer axial tomography, commonly known as CAT scanning, is introduced. A CAT
scan combines many high-definition, cross-sectional x-rays to produce a
two-dimensional image of a patient's anatomy.
Phenix, first French fast breeder power plant in operation in Marcoule (250
Energy crisis due to Arab oil embargo.
H. William Strauss introduces the exercise stress-test myocardial scan.
John Keyes develops the first general purpose single photo emission computed
tomography (SPECT) camera. Ronald Jaszczak develops the first dedicated head
Joint Expert Committee on Food Irradiation (JEFCI) approves several irradiated
foods and recommends that food irradiation be classified as a physical process.
President Carter bans the recycling of used nuclear fuel from commercial
The Voyager 2 spacecraft is launched carrying a 12-inch copper phonograph record
containing greetings in every language. The spacecraft's electricity is
generated by the decay of plutonium 238 pellets.
David Goldenberg uses radiolabeled antibodies to image tumors in humans.
Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suffers a
partial core meltdown. Minimal quantity of radioactive material is released.
(See History at Three Mile Island on the ANS web site.)
JEFCI approves all irradiated foods treated with a maximum average dose of
J.P. Mach uses radiolabeled monoclonal antibodies for tumor imaging.
Steve Larson and Jeff Carrasquillo use iodine-131 labeled monoclonial antibodies
to treat cancer patients with malignant melanoma.
U.S. FDA and Canadian Health & Welfare Department approve spice irradiation.
U.S. FDA approves irradiation of pork to control trichinosis.
Chernobyl nuclear reactor melts down and fire occurs in the Ukraine. Massive
quantities of radioactive material are released.
U.S. FDA approves irradiation of fruits and vegetables and other foods up to
doses of one kGy.
Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act designates Yucca Mountain, Nevada as
candidate for nation's first geological repository for high-level radioactive
waste and spent nuclear fuel.
U.S. electricity demand is 50% higher than in 1973.
109 nuclear power plants provide 19% of the electricity used in U.S.; 46 units
have entered service during this decade.
The FDA approves the first positron radiopharmaceutical (rubidium-82) for
myocardial perfusion imaging.
Galileo Mission is launched aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.
110 nuclear power plants in the U.S. set a record for the amount of electricity
generated, surpassing all fuel sources combined in 1956.
The Ulysses mission is launched aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
The FDA approves irradiation of packaged fresh or frozen uncooked poultry and
supports it as an effective control of microorganisms responsible for a major
portion of food-borne illness, including Salmonella, Yersinia, and Campylobacter.
111 nuclear power plants operate in the U.S. produce almost 22% of the
electricity generated commercially in the U.S.
The FDA approves the first monoclonal antibody radiopharmaceutical for tumor
DOE signs cooperative agreement with the nuclear industry to co-fund the
development of standard designs for advanced light water reactors.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 is signed into law. The Act makes several
important changes in the licensing process for nuclear power plants.
Finland considers order of new nuclear power plant.
DOE and the U.S. nuclear industry cooperate on site location for new nuclear
House of Representatives approves Yucca Mountain as final disposal site for
spent nuclear fuel.
U.S. Department of Energy, International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Science Division ---- Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory, Penn State Radiation Science and Engineering Center, American