On Dec 1-2, the University of Chicago commemorates the 75th anniversary of the first sustained nuclear chain reaction, Chicago Pile 1, led by Enrico Fermi, an event that ushered in the nuclear era.
Amidst the planned commemoration activities, including the pyrotechnics of a multicolored mushroom cloud, the tolling of bells, and faculty organized events and discussions, we must pause to reflect upon the human toll of the nuclear era, which includes human experimentation in the early 1960s on University of Chicago students and staff recruited to ingest fallout in order to assess health effects of exposure.
Let us all join the call of Dr Norma Field, Robert S Ingersoll Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Chicago, to examine University policies that permitted this “voluntary” human radiation experimentation. And, as urged in 1986 by Senator Ed Markey, let us demand that the Department of Energy identify the human subjects in these experiments, assess any radiation-induced diseases in these subjects, and compensate them for damages suffered.
The voice of the victims of the nuclear age is missing in commemoration activities at the University of Chicago.
Thank you, Dr Field, for speaking out.