Science: Atomic Housecleaning

Atomic Housecleaning Reporting for work at General Electric's plutonium plant in Hanford, Wash., a night watchman began the routine of checking in. He stopped before an Alpha radiation counter about the size and shape of a soft-drink machine, casually stuck his hands in, and listened for the amplified clicks by which the sensitive instrument registers its count. The chatter he heard from the machine shocked the startled patrolman right out of his routine, sent him rushing to the Health Instruments Division. There, doctors quickly confirmed the machine's verdict. His hands were emitting more radiation than a radium watch dial.

Under questioning, the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!