Effect of Gamma Rays on Marigolds

Paul Zindel's play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1971. It inspired Paul Newman to make a film of the same name the next year.

And in 1974 it inspired 13-year-old Danny Kleiner of Philadelphia to wonder what the effect of gamma rays on marigolds would be. So he made that his school science project. He used cobalt radiation to produce the gamma rays. Unfortunately, I don't know what the results of his experiment were.

I haven't read or seen Zindel's play so I don't know if a similar experiment is featured in the book. I'm guessing it must be. I wonder how many high school students were inspired by Zindel's play to do similar experiments?

Danny Kleiner examining his gamma-ray-exposed marigolds
via Temple University Library

     Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 14, 2017
     Category: Theater and Stage | Experiments | 1970s

I'm picturing the look on my high school science teacher's face when I asked him if he knew where I could get a few hunks of cobalt-60.
Posted by Virtual on 10/14/17 at 07:30 PM
@Virtual -- I don't know about 'hunks,' but United Nuclear carries Cobalt-60 disks. http://unitednuclear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_5&products_id=819
Currently $84 plus shipping.
Posted by Phideaux on 10/15/17 at 12:33 AM
A 29 gram (about one ounce) pure cobalt rod is also available from Metallium, Inc. http://www.elementsales.com/pl_element.htm#co for only $52 plus shipping. Samples of quite a few elements are for sale here.

Cobalt coins are also available, for only $28 plus shipping. http://www.elementsales.com/ecoins.htm
Posted by Fritz G on 10/15/17 at 06:58 AM
Alas, Danny had no internet in 1974 to turn to and buy hazardous materials. He also didn't have my high school science teacher, who would have stopped me from getting radiation poisoning over some stupid name somebody came up with.
Posted by Virtual on 10/15/17 at 10:31 AM
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