Professor Bernard Leonard Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Pittsburgh.

His publications include six solely authored books, about 135 research papers on basic nuclear physics, about 200 scientific papers on energy and environment (e.g. nuclear power, health effects of radiation, radioactive waste, risks in our Society), and about 60 articles in popular magazines including National Review, Oui, Science Digest, Catholic Digest, and American Legion Magazine. He has been invited to lecture at about 160 scientific meetings and about 500 other locations in 47 U.S. states, 6 Canadian Provinces, 6 Australian states, 7 Japanese Prefectures, and 24 other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. He has made over 50 TV appearances (including shows with Barbara Walters, William Buckley, Charlie Rose, Geraldo Rivera, and Rolanda), and was interviewed on about 100 radio programs.

His nuclear physics research was recognized by receipt of the American Physical Society Tom Bonner Prize (1981), and his election as Chairman of the A. P.S. Division of Nuclear Physics (1974-75). His research on energy and environment was recognized by receipt of the Health Physics Society Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, the American Nuclear Society Walter Zinn Award (contributions to nuclear power), Public Information Award, and Special Award (health impacts of low level radiation), and his election to membership in National Academy of Engineering; he was also elected Chairman of the Am. Nuclear Society Division of Environmental Sciences (1980-81). Further information is available on his web page

When Ralph Nader described plutonium as "the most toxic substance known to mankind", Cohen, then a tenured professor, offered to consume on camera as much plutonium oxide as Nader could consume of caffeine, the stimulant found in coffee and other beverages, which in its pure form has an estimated LD50 of 13-19 grams for an adult human.

Professor Cohen has also been a staunch opponent to the so called Linear no-threshold model (LNT) which postulates that there is no safe threshold for radiation exposure. His debates in academic periodicals and published correspondence with R. William Field, Brian J. Smith (assistant professor of biostatistics, University of Iowa), Jerry Puskin (from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Sarah Darby, and Sir Richard Doll and others regarding his radon-related ecologic studies are legendary.[1][2] He offered many rewards ($10,000) if people could provide evidence that the inverse association he found between radon (county averages) and lung cancer (county averages) was due to some factor other than failure of the linear-no threshold theory. Puskin, Smith, Field and others have claimed that his findings are due in part to his inability to control for the inverse association between smoking and radon.[3][4]

Professor Cohen has written at least five books, the most widely known of which is The Nuclear Energy Option (1990). Although published as a hardcover, the full text is also available online [1].

Other books he has written include Heart of the Atom (1967), Concepts of Nuclear Physics (1970), Nuclear Science and Society (1974), and Before It's Too Late (1983), from which some chapters of The Nuclear Energy Option were based.


1. ^ Cohen's fallacy University of Iowa published correspondence.

2. ^ Abstract from Response to Criticisms of Smith Et Al. Cohen, Bernard. Health Physics. 75(1):23-28, July 1998.

3. ^ Abstract from Smoking as a confounder in ecologic correlations of cancer mortality rates with average county radon levels. Puskin, JL. Health Physics February 2004, Cohen, BL.The Puskin observation on smoking as a confounder in ecological correlations of cancer mortality rates with average county radon levels, Health Phys 86:203-204;2004 pp203-4.

4. ^ A respectable end to radon debate needed Published email correspondence between Cohen and Vanderbilt University.


* Bernard Cohen home page. Contains full text of The Nuclear Energy Option (ISBN 0-306-43567-5).

* The Myth of Plutonium Toxicity paper in which Cohen discusses his challenge to Nader.


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