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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: September 2019

5 - Radiation Within: Monitoring Particles in Bodies


This chapter considers how did Ghanaian physicists made nuclear science their own under the watchful eye of the International Atomic Energy Agency within what I term a “nuclear protectorate?” During the long battle to secure a nuclear reactor for the Ghana, GAEC sustained one of its additional roles as outlined in the initial 1963 Act 204 that had established it: monitoring radiation at the nation’s x-ray facilities. This work gave GAEC a mandate to apply physics to human bodies. Hospitals and ports turned on radiation sources and GAEC scientists monitored them to measure the levels of exposure to radiographers. Nuclear physicists also introduced new ways to irradiate insects to sterilize pesky disease-carrying flies and kill insect eggs on crops to prolong shelf live. While it took a long time to expand their research programs with an actual reactor, GAEC scientists managed to flourish in their continued quest to make physics relevant to Ghanaian life. The IAEA came to depend on Ghanaian experts as some of the most highly trained nuclear scientists in Africa. They were constantly in demand to represent the continent in IAEA committees, training programs, and observational teams.

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