Re: Alpha Radiation

John Clark (
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 02:18:59 -0400

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I said that Alpha particles that hit living tissue were extremely dangerous, especially when they don't kill a cell but only mutated it. Robert J. Bradbury <> then quotes from Alpern's Radiation Biophysics in an attempt to prove I'm wrong. Perhaps I'm a little slow on the uptake but I'll be dammed if I can see how it proves anything of the sort, especially when it includes passages like:

" transformation by plutonium-238 alpha particles in Balb/3T3 cells was substantially *higher* than that for cell lethality."


"At equivalent doses, alpha particles were substantially more cytotoxic than gamma rays and were more efficient in inducing oncogenic transformation."

In case you hadn't noticed Alpern is talking about cancer, "oncogenic transformation" just sounds better in a big expensive scientific book.

>Only a *very* energetic particle has enough energy to interact with the DNA
>backbone and produce a double strand break.

Nonsense. In the first place the backbone is not important, it's a break in the rungs of the DNA ladder that's important because that's where all the digital information is stored. In the second place, the chemical bonds in the rungs are much weaker than those in the backbone, although even the strongest chemical bonds are of only a few electron volts . I'm talking about average run of the mill radiation particles and they have thousands, often millions, and sometimes many billions of electron volts of energy.

>John, you should assume in any discussions that if the material relates
>to biology and/or nanotechnology that I am likely to have in my personal
>library the relevant sources. If I suggest that you may be inaccurate,
>it is because I have good sources to back up those opinions. My education
>includes computer science, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry and
>some physics and astronomy.

Hey, don't tell me how smart you are, show me

>I will willingly and freely admit when I am wrong or on swampy ground.

I will too, should that unlikely event ever happen.

     >if you make a claim without being able to back it up, I will slice you and
     >dice you and nail you to the wall.

You're welcome to try but you'll have to do better than quoting long passages from a book you don't understand.

John K Clark

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