Dr. Joseph Gilbert Hamilton drinking radioactive sodium. Joseph Hamilton drinking radiosodium in January 1939 and R. Marshak (right). Soon after he began his search for useful radioisotopes, Lawrence had the good luck to make sodium-24 efficiently by bombarding rock salt with deuterons. The new substance runs through the body like ordinary sodium; its convenient half-life, fifteen hours, made it useful in diagnosis and therapy. "My medical friends tell me that the properties of radiosodium are almost ideal for many medical applications, such as the treatment of cancer." Lawrence predicted that sodium-24 would supersede radium, and to make sure he promoted it on a national lecture tour. A volunteer-the first two were Alvarez and Joseph Hamilton of the University's hospital in San Francisco-would down a solution of the isotope, and Lawrence would track its course through his body. Lawrence received fresh supplies of sodium-24 by air mail just in time for these lectures, which increased the drama, and the value, of radioisotopes. (The preceding information was excerpted from the text of the Fall 1981 issue of LBL Newsmagazine.)
The image is sourced from Wikipedia, but captured by the US Government.