I became radioactive

Working with gamma rays gave AQEEL AKBER, BSc (Hons) ’15 a unique insight into a medical procedure on himself.

After I broke a wrist in a fall off my bicycle, I was injected with a significant amount of a radioactive isotope that helped doctors diagnose the fracture.

I was pretty excited about the procedure because I work in nuclear physics. I study gamma rays and radiation detection is my speciality. To actually become a source of things I study was quite exciting.

What I found interesting about the injection, apart from it being amazing science, was the reaction of people to it.

Most people I spoke to who aren't nuclear physicists weren't aware – or couldn't comprehend – exactly how radioactive I was relative to other sources that they would come across. When I told them, they weren’t afraid.

I knew they had no reason to be afraid of the radioactive source sitting in front of them.I see much more fear in the eyes of people when I conduct a lab tour at the ANU Department of Nuclear Physics or when I talk about radiation in bananas.

Conclusion, putting my charming face on radioactive sources does wonders for public perception. I was injected with Technetium-99m (99mTc), a commonly used isotope that is employed in thousands of medical diagnostic procedures every year.