Medical Aspects of Atomic Weapons (1950)

31Jan10

A terrible scan but readable, Medical Aspects of Atomic Weapons (prepared for the National Security Resources Board by the Department of Defense and the United States Atomic Energy Commission, Washington, DC, 1950: SuDoc Pr 33.702:At 7) is another rare doc on the Web.

The document is noteworthy for statements made by the DOD and AEC on page 10:

It would be unrealistic to prepare for fewer than 40,0,00to 50,000 severely burned persons from a single atomic explosion…

But the real story is Harold L. Goodwin’s (of the Civil Defense Office) memo “Corrected Copy of Medical Aspects of Atomic Weapons” to AEC’s Ward Miller, Jr. (Asst. to the Chief, Civil Defense Liaison Branch) on securing clearance from DOD for the release of the publication.

Note that alterations to the same page 10 where significant details mentioned in Goodwin’s memo were omitted in the public version of Medical Aspects:

This number of burn casualties, together with injuries of other types such as fractures, contusions, abrasions and radiation sickness, would demand enormous amounts of supplies to  prevent unnecessary loss of life. Ideal treatment would be impossible under such disaster conditions.

This is a case of institutional censorship and information distortion – both aspects of government secrecy.

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**I was holding off posting Medical Aspects as I wanted to re-scan, but I now learned the one local library that had a copy is missing the doc. I suppose a poorly scanned copy is better than none (BTW, Worldcat claims there’s a digitized copy at googlebooks, but this is an error).

prepared for the National Security Resources Board by the Department of Defense and the United States Atomic Energy Commission.
Publisher [Washington, D.C.] : National Security Resources Board : U.S. Dept. of Defense : U.S. Atomic Energy Commission : U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1950.
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