Trump’s X-ray barbecue
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
John Trump, the uncle of US president Donald J. Trump, worked as one of Van de Graaff’s assistants. Van de Graaff was known for his impeccable manners and his colleagues joked that it was impossible to go through a door after the physicist.
Van de Graaff and Trump became interested in the medical uses of high-energy accelerators and Trump met with a radiologist who wanted to construct a device that could exceed 400 keV. Trump is reported to have declared: “Make it 1 MV and we might be interested.” Trump went on to develop a 2 MV radiotherapy device in which a patient was rotated in front of an X-ray source which Life magazine described as an “X-ray Barbecue”. Trump’s contributions to radiotherapy were acknowledged in his obituary in the New York Times which reported that his inventions had “provided additional years of life to cancer patients throughout the world”.