San Francisco, California

The Radium Craze

Eric Bailey on the radium craze and the harmful effects of applying one technology to everything:

Blanket-applying radium to everything created horrific outcomes, some that we’re still being affected by today. Bottles of radium-infused beverages still show up in antique stores with some frequency. If they’re recognized as such, specialized containment and cleanup crews are brought in.

This being said, radium has some positive applications. Contemporary uses include treating some forms of cancer, checking machined metal parts for defects, and sourcing neutrons. These are situations where radium’s properties are purposefully and deliberately applied.

[...] Technology drives outcomes, but its selection doesn’t live in a vacuum. As technology workers, we have a responsibility to make careful and deliberate technology choices and not cause undue immediate or long-term harm.