Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ottawa Citizen, April 3, 1958

Isaac Asimov's name appeared in the newspapers beginning in about 1954, with reviews of each of his books as it appeared.

Unfortunately, I can't share any of these with you because they are all "Pay per view" and the newspapers concerned want $3.95 for each article. I think not.

But the Ottawa Citizen (a Canadian newspaper, obviously) makes its archives freely available, and Asimov is mentioned in an article from this newspaper's weekend insert, WEEKEND Magazine, on April 3, 1958.

The headline?
"Here is what we learned about RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT." The title runs over the two page spread of the article, with an additional few paragraphs on another page (in which Asimov's name is mentioned.)

It starts out in this way:
More than 100 nuclear bombs have been tested by the U.S., Russia and Britain since man first unleashed the terrifying destructive power of the atom 13 years ago. Each new test now sends a shudder of doubt and anxiety around the world.

Eminent scientists warn us that we are contaminating the earth with an unseen mantle of deadly radioactivity. Other scientists, apparently equally eminent, contradict them.

What is the layman to make of it all? Is radioactive fallout making the world unsafe not only for ourselves, but for generations yet to be born? Just how much radioactivity have the bomb tests showered us with, anyway?

To try to answer this question, WEEKEND Magazine asked one of Canada's most distinguished physicists, Dr. J.S. Foster, to travel across the country taking samples of the radioactivity in eight widely-separated cities.

His verdict: "Every part of Canada shows some trace of bomb fallout, but the amount is only a fraction of the natural radioactivity that has surrounded man throughout his history-radioactivty that is given off all the time by elements in the earth, in water and in the air.

But Foster is a phsyicist. And biologists disagreed with him.

Asimov's name is mentioned in the back part of the article.
In 1954, 10,000 people died of leukemia in the United States. Dr. Edward Lewis, of the California Institute of Technoloyg, has established that about 1,000 of these cases were caused by natural radioactivity. Basing his calculations on this estimate, Dr. Isaac Asimov, associate professor of biochemistry at Boston University School of Medicine, has suggested that the strontium-90 so far absorbed into our bodies from bomb tests may have caused one per cent of these deaths, 10 people a year.

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