How to standardize radiation?

Aske Hennelund Nielsen

How do you standardize radiation? This question may seem academic, but was actually a pressing issue for radiologists and medical doctors of the first decades after the discoveries of the 20th century, as the sought to use this newly discovered radiation for health purposes. Several national actors and groups would make suggestions for radiation standards, however, few standards found widespread usage outside their national contexts. In my research, focusing on the inter-war period, I have studied how different national groups came to co-operate and compete with each other in the international setting of the International Radiological Congress, especially on how to form radiation standards. One of these groups pictured here in 1925, would exert a decisive influence on the international context, namely the radiologists located at Radiumhemmet in Stockholm, Sweden. This group, notably Rolf M. Sievert (back row to the left) and Gösta Forssell (back row, mid), were actively engaged in scientific and diplomatic negotiations with other actors and national groups throughout the 1920s and 1930s, seeking to formulate new scientific standards that would come to be disseminated all over the world and inform medical practices until this day.


Radiumhemmet Fjällgatan 1925

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