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Salient. Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 4. Monday, April 8, 1963

Radiation Increase Is Negligible

page 7

Radiation Increase Is Negligible

Fears of increased radiation due to bomb tests may be exaggerated. Compared to the natural radiation all around us, the temporary increase in radiation caused by testing is negligible.

This was the conclusion reached by Sir Ernest Marsden, the distinguished N.Z. physicist, in a talk delivered to the Maths and Physics Society of V.U.W. recently.

Sir Ernest has spent several years studying the effects of fallout and measuring radiation in soils and food. He said that the rays from strontium 90 and other fall-out products do not have such lasting and dangerous effects as those which occur naturally all over the Earth's surface as certain elements decay.

He has recently been studying the effects of radiation on the people of Niue Island, where the background radioactivity is about 180 times that found in New Zealand. He found ample evidence of genetic abnormalities and sterility, due largely to natural radiation.

Government sponsored research into the subject was desirable, but in such a controversial subject as this it could not be completely impartial. No matter how honest the individual workers were in their conclusions, if these were contrary to government policy they could be concealed from the public.

It was a vital function of a university, said the onetime Victoria professor of Physics, to be a centre for truly independent research.

Sir Ernest answered several questions from the floor at the end of his talk. Replying to a question by a student about nuclear war he said that as a physicist he did not think that the threat of radioactive contamination could legitimately be used to prevent bomb testing. People should not get too emotional about the matter.

Maths Professor Campbell wondered how people could refrain from being emotional when their lives were at stake.