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Joe Hamilton's Cavalier Approach to Radiation

HEFNER: Describe a little bit why you say that. What behaviors made you think that?
GOFMAN: If you need a target made or a target handled, he'd bring it back. He shouldn't have been carrying the thing. Just a general handling of things. This guy didn't seem to respect radiation.
HEFNER: Do you know why, do you have any sense why?
GOFMAN: I have a letter from a lady. Did Greg Herken[18] ever show you that letter?
GOFMAN: Do you see him much?
GOURLEY: I see him now and then.
GOFMAN: There's the Cal Monthly; you know the magazine. Well, Russell Schoch had called me up and said, "I've done a question-and-answer interview with all the heretics on the Berkeley campus. But I've never done you." So he did, and this lady read the Cal Monthly interview and she said, "I was a classmate of Joe Hamilton. This guy was just wild; he would do the craziest things all the time, and we'd just wonder when he was going to blow up the place." I can locate that letter for you sometime, if you would like to have it.
HEFNER: Okay, thank you very much.
GOFMAN: I've forgotten her name, but I have it in an envelope with all my papers concerning that "60 Minutes Australia." She described Joe as an undergraduate who had crazy ideas. Who would do things like inhale some gases that would change his voice?[19] She thought he was strange.
HEFNER: What strikes me is how parallel your academic credentials are to Dr. Hamilton-an M.D. and the love of chemistry.
GOFMAN: I always got along fine with Joe. I think he's gotten a very, very bad rap in this whole human experimentation [uproar]. All my relations with Joe Hamilton were always cordial. I didn't know what he was doing with the radiology group. And even though he was in Crocker Lab and I'd come to the Donner Lab [at Berkeley], we'd see each other occasionally. I'd known him before in the war years. Always cordial. I think people made him out to be a monster ever since some of this recent [public attention].
HEFNER: So he's not the mad scientist he's portrayed to be?
GOFMAN: Oh, no, no. Joe is just a very simple person. He may have been isolated, but Dorothy Axelrod, who used to date Bob Duffield (who was one of my close friends in chemistry), worked with Joe and she loved to work with him. She didn't just think he was a fun guy.
GOURLEY: [Is] Joe Hamilton the one [who] you hear stories [about] tak[ing] the nuclear drink in front of a class?
GOFMAN: Oh yeah, I think he did drink radioiodine. I've heard those stories. He was teaching a course of applications of radioactivity in biology and medicine in our division. When Joe died of leukemia, I inherited that course and taught it after that.
GOURLEY: Did you do the same thing?

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