Quantum and Nuclear

The physicist who cured his mother

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 16-19 IOP RESOURCES

Only two years after Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays, Leopold Freund of the Medical University of Vienna, reported the successful treatment of a five-year-old girl’s moles using X-rays. The use of radiotherapy advanced rapidly. John H. Lawrence was a medical doctor, researcher and the brother of Ernest O. Lawrence, the American nuclear physicist and inventor of the cyclotron, an early particle accelerator. In 1935, John joined the California Radiation Laboratory (now the Lawrence Berley National Laboratory) and developed treatments for leukaemia by injecting mice with radioisotopes of phosphorous produced from his brother’s accelerator. When the Lawrence brothers’ mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1939, they used a laboratory X-ray tube to treat her. She went into remission and lived for 18 additional years. John Lawrence was awarded the Fermi award in 1983 for his “pioneering work and continuing leadership in nuclear medicine” and is considered a founder of the field.



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