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Of Science, Fear, and Nuclear Radiation

For Andrew Maidment, the chief of physics for the Department of Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania, it was one of the oddest phone calls he’d ever received. “A woman called me up once,” he remembers, “and I hear this child screaming in the background, yelling and crying, crying. She starts off with, can I hug my son again?” “She explains that her son had broken his leg three weeks earlier, and he’d had an X-ray for his leg. And was he still radioactive? She’s so afraid of radiation she won’t hug her kid.”

Part of Maidment’s job is consulting with patients and occasionally answering strange questions, but this was a new one: “She explains that her son had broken his leg three weeks earlier, and he’d had an X-ray for his leg. And was he still radioactive? She’s so afraid of radiation she won’t hug her kid.” Maidment reassured the woman that any radiation her son had received vanished as soon as the X-ray machine was turned off, and that her child wasn’t radioactive. “She says, ‘so I could have hugged my son right away?’ And I say, ‘yeah.’”

Full story can be found on UnDark.

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