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ORAU History - 1958

In 1958, Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies (ORINS) Medical Division Chairman Marshall Brucer was granted a patent for “mock iodine-270,” which was a novel, long-lived source of gamma radiation that simulated the gamma spectrum of iodine-131. The counterfeit isotope had a half-life of 10 years, far longer than the eight days of iodine-131.

On June 17, 1958, shortly after 3:22 p.m., five people in five different states made ORINS history. Each was designated “one in a million” when they walked into a unit of the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) “Atoms for Peace” exhibit. Since it was virtually impossible to tell which person was actually the millionth visitor to the exhibit, all shared the title. Each was presented with an ORINS souvenir kit that contained a special booklet, “The Peaceful Atom;” a collection of minerals; and a dime that had been irradiated at the American Museum of Atomic Energy.

The ORINS Board of Directors approved arrangements for the planning and construction of a $160,000 office building on the 38-acre tract of land that ORINS had purchased from the AEC.

Inside the Mobile Radioisotope Laboratories, students learned basic counting techniques and applications of isotopes in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.

The Special Training Division (now known as Radiation Sciences Training) designed two mobile radioisotope laboratories, which the AEC presented to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for training people across Europe in radioisotope handling techniques. The first of these 35-foot long units, which resembled a large van, was shipped to Europe in August 1958. After a stop at the Geneva Convention, the van was headquartered at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The IAEA offered mobile lab courses in Germany, Austria, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Turkey.

With the delivery of a second mobile radioisotope laboratory in December of 1958, the University Relations Division (now known as the University Partnerships Office) began a training program similar to that of the IAEA. The mobile lab spent two weeks on a university campus, allowing staff to provide instruction to select science faculty and students on the basic counting techniques and applications of radioisotopes in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.

In 1958, the Medical Division installed a new 1,300-curie cobalt teletherapy device to treat cancer patients. Two years in the making, this double-headed device was a joint project with the Westinghouse X-Ray Corporation.