Template:Did you know nominations/Albert Stevens

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Round symbols for illustrating comments about the DYK nomination The following is an archived discussion of Albert Stevens's DYK nomination. Please do not modify this page. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page; such as this archived nomination"s (talk) page, the nominated article's (talk) page, or the WikiProject Did you knowDYK comment symbol (talk) page. Unless there is consensus to re-open the archived discussion here. No further edits should be made to this page. See the talk page guidelines for (more) information.

The result was: promoted by Miyagawa (talk) 23:01, 22 February 2013 (UTC).

Albert Stevens[edit]

Created/expanded by Uruiamme (talk), Catsmeat (talk). Nominated by Uruiamme (talk) at 08:44, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

  • NOTE: I believe we can find a picture of Albert. I am pretty sure there is a picture in Welsome's book. I like to saw logs! (talk) 09:07, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Symbol possible vote.svg Impressive looking article, new enough, 11160 prose characters and 5x expansion according to DYKcheck. Random check didn't reveal any close paraphrasing. The final paragraph is unsourced, and needs to be. More crucial, both hooks are far too long. The absolute maximum is 200 characters (including spaces); the original hook is 235 characters, and ALT1 is even longer at 242, so I've struck them both. Try to make your new ALT or ALTs well under 200 if possible; shorter is better. I should point out that a picture from a book is almost certainly going to be copyrighted, and thus ineligible for DYK. BlueMoonset (talk) 06:49, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
ALT2: ... that Albert Stevens was secretly given a lethal dose of plutonium, and the Manhattan Project paid for his urine and feces until he died 20 years later?
  • The length of ALT2 is fine now, but I'm not entirely sure that the last part of it is fully supported by the article or its underlying source (FN1). Although they did pay for urine and feces, one of the interviews in that article seem to indicate that the feces testing stopped when the laboratory refused to pay for the tests any longer, presumably while he was still alive. Can you please take another look? Thanks. BlueMoonset (talk) 21:43, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
ALT3: ... that Albert Stevens received a secret lethal injection of plutonium, the Manhattan Project paid for his urine and feces, and he survived for over 20 years afterward?
  • Symbol question.svg I'm happy with the article now, and the 340-day info is quite useful, but ALT3 doesn't seem to hold together even though its various facts are sourced: there's no sense of time with the urine and feces, and it seems disconnected from the rest. It's interesting enough that it would be nice if it could be included; I'll see if I can come up with something soon. Otherwise, a cut-down version of the last two ALTs can still be interesting:
ALT5: ... that Albert Stevens received a secret lethal injection of plutonium, and the Manhattan Project paid him for samples of his urine and feces?
Try ALT5 over ALT4. My reason to keep this factoid is that it mentions something most people have a connection to: the Manhattan Project. This was the Force majeure that caused me to spend so much time on his article, and the reason why this experiment existed. While I can't say precisely that a Manhattan Project doctor did this... it is only because of the way the "higher ups" got results in this secret club... they funneled money and orders to the people who would do the injections. The culpability needs to be specified. While I can get mad that the poor guy suffered for 20 years, it really makes me take notice when I hear that this was the effort of the Manhattan Project, a Government project.
So I really want the culprit written into the "hook." Trust me on this aspect... it says volumes more to know that this was done by Uncle Sam's henchmen in the "hook." I would at least modify yours to include the link to the Manhattan Project. THE SAD THING is that poor Albert Stevens is not known for doing anything... except "receiving" an injection and "receiving" the government hush money. Grammatically speaking, that means I can hardly use the active voice in the hook, which limits the things that can be said. I like to saw logs! (talk) 04:41, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I've struck earlier hooks for various issues, and I apologize for missing the Manhattan Project part; my apologies. I'd like to suggest a slight rewording of ALT5 which I think is stronger (though if you don't like "subsequently" or "many months", those can be excised), and also to suggest a variant of ALT4 that does mention the Manhattan Project, in case you'd prefer the survival over the urine and feces:
I think the only reason not to say "by the Manhattan Project" would be if the link to the project was indirect; as it is not, according to the article, why not make it crystal clear? Let me know what you think. Thanks! BlueMoonset (talk) 05:34, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
I like ALT5a with the "many months" stricken as above. I have done some more cleanup on article and linked more references. Note the change in the second heading to emphasize your point about "by the Manhattan Project". I like to saw logs! (talk) 08:39, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Symbol redirect vote4.png Independent reviewer needed to vet ALT5a (with stricken phrase removed for easier reading); I've also struck plain ALT5 and ALT6. Since I proposed ALT5a, I can't approve it. BlueMoonset (talk) 18:12, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Symbol question.svg ALT5a approval attempt only; AGF on all other rules. There was no easy way to check this hook without reading a lot of material, as the hook facts are spread across two extensive sources A and B. In the end, I am unable to accept lethal dose in the hook. If it was lethal, Stevens would have died, right? Source [A] p. 54 says "Albert was to live nearly twenty-one years after he was diagnosed as terminal and injected with a so-called lethal dose of plutonium". Source [B] p. 198 says "The plutonium given to CAL-1 [Identified by source A p. 171 as Stevens] was actually a mixture of plutonium-239 (0.75 micrograms) and plutonium-238 (0.2 micrograms)" --Senra (talk) 20:22, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Ok, so we can vet this. In the words of Kenneth Scott, "so called lethal dose" means that the dose was a lethal dose. The fact that Stevens survived for 20 years doesn't change the amount of the dose. He used the words "so called" because Stevens ironically lived 20 years.
Should I now embark on a discussion of the medical definition of a lethal dose? In the minds of a doctor or a health professional or someone who has studied the biological effects of radiation, the 20 years of living doesn't contradict the fact that the dose was lethal. Because when a poison is studied in the medical profession, or when the biological effects of radiation are considered, there is always a wide range of points at which a person or animal will succumb to the poison or radiation. Therefore, a particular person may die from 350 rem acute dose of radiation, while another may survive 750 rem acute dose. The accepted "lethal dose" of radiation is 500 rem. To make a long story short, a person can receive a lethal dose and survive indefinitely. If you want to do your due diligence, do not take my word on this, but refer to the LD50 article, which discusses the 50% likelihood of death from a specific dose.
The direct quote from Kenneth Scott is the reason for the dose being called "lethal" in the hook. But to get into the specifics of what is the true and definitive lethal dose for plutonium would take some time. As this source declares on page 5 (See PDF link), the modern estimate might be based on research done on dogs. But in that source, understand that Pu-239 is normally studied isotope, and that Stevens received mostly Pu-238 that is intensely radioactive in comparison. Any LD50 estimate for humans, plutonium or otherwise, is insanely guesswork and estimates and extrapolation.
I personally believe Kenneth Scott's prognosis. He was not a medical doctor, but he worked with radioactive elements from the 30s till I don't know when, alongside the country's foremost scientists at Berkeley. No one works with Pu-238 any more. Scott did. Extensively. If he said that about 0.75 micrograms of Pu-238 was lethal, then I know that that was the best-guess lethal dose of the time and may be forever. Whether based on his studies on rats or his personal opinion is immaterial. Patricia Durbin (who wrote some of the sources cited) said of Kenneth Scott "He was literally a walking encyclopedia" (see link) when talking about his appointment to run the Radioactivity Research Center at UCSF. I like to saw logs! (talk) 03:11, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
  • As I said earlier, there is no easy way to check this hook without reading a lot (unless the reviewer has a background in it). I am definitely not qualified, medically or scientifically to do anything other than check sources. As a lay reader, the phrase lethal dose in the hook gives me concern when I read stories about other lethal doses such as Louis Slotin who died within nine-days of an accidental criticality event. I accept that Slotin was irradiated and Stevens was injected but from a lay reader's perspective, why did Stevens live over 20-years yet Slotin died with 9-days? To move this forward, may I suggest adding the phrase so-called in front of lethal in hook ALT5a? --Senra (talk) 14:49, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
Slotin was not injected, and received enormously more in an "acute" dose from this external source. Even those folks receiving massive amounts of radiation took a little while for the blood to deteriorate. Looking at the Slotin article, Slotin's 1.1 Gy or 1100 rad estimate was certain to be deadly. Stevens received 300 rads per year and he eventually accumulated 6400 rad. Stevens dose was less deterministic, as he had 12 months for every 300 rads that he absorbed in order for his body to adjust. Meanwhile, Slotin's accident irradiated him with neutrons and gamma rays and x-rays. None of those affected Stevens. I like to saw logs! (talk) 02:20, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
  • Complete aside, not part of DYK, but source [B p. 198] clearly says "The plutonium given to CAL-1 was actually a mixture of plutonium-239 (0.75 micrograms) and plutonium-238 (0.2 micrograms)" which seems to conflict with your "If [Scott] said that about 0.75 micrograms of Pu-238 was lethal". In addition, according to our article on Alexander Litvinenko poisoning, Litvinenko died 22-days after ingesting 10 micrograms of 210Po; on the surface a 50-times more 'lethal dose than Stevens (of an admittedly different substance) --Senra (talk) 14:49, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
I thought it impertinent to mention both plutonium isotopes here on this talk. I was getting long-winded as it was. I wrote both quotes above and so I was keenly aware of Stevens receiving both types of plutonium. The radioactivity of the Pu-238 is so much more than Pu-239, that I was using shorthand for the significant one. I know of no one in the world who has received so much Pu-238. See New ALT7. I like to saw logs! (talk) 02:20, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Pictogram voting keep.svg This is good to go with the 180 character hook ALT7 (sourced to A and B) unless anyone objects (for the record, ALT8 is 195 characters). Note my AGF of all other rules as stated previously --Senra (talk) 11:49, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

  • Symbol confirmed.svg Specifically approving ALT8; it may be longer, but it's equally accurate and, to my view, reads better. (I'm not fond of "so-called", and my reading of the sources is that they thought the plutonium injection they gave him would kill him.) The promoter can decide whether to use ALT7 or ALT8, both of which have been approved. BlueMoonset (talk) 15:09, 22 February 2013 (UTC)