ATOMIC ART (Nov, 1954)
Dr Wheeler passed away in 1999. Obituary may be found here (PDF)
By Gene Bylinsky
WHILE trying to “tag” microscopic fungi with the use of radioactive isotopes in 1951 for the Atomic Energy Commission, Dr. Harry Wheeler, Associate Professor of Botany at Louisiana State University, discovered that when the tiny fungi were given radioactive food and placed upon photographic paper they would take pictures of themselves. Working with his wife Naomi and Mrs. Caroline Durieux, under whom his wife was studying print-making methods, they tried using isotopes for prints—with great success.
Radioactive isotopes are mixed with printing ink. A drawing is made and exposed face-to-face to paper coated with a radio-sensitized substance. The paper is then developed and produces an exact image of the original drawing.
“The image is transferred from the radioactive drawing to the sensitized paper by invisible beta rays,” says Dr. Wheeler. “Since beta rays are electrons, we named the process Electron Printing.”