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As I write this, spring is underway in my area. The unofficial start of spring for me is when I hear the spring peepers looking for love in the evening, and they are in full voice now. We also have lots of warm sunshine. This reminds me of an old saying, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.” 

What does this have to do with science in general or health physics in particular? Well, quite a lot, it turns out. While I’m sure the quote was originally applied to medical settings, it is also now commonly applied to ethics. In the latter context, it more or less means that matters like financial transactions, leadership decisions, and debates over scientific issues are best conducted transparently in the full light of day. When contentious scientific issues are addressed behind closed doors, without public access to the discussions, reasoning, and arguments for and against various hypotheses, the results are suboptimal. Trust is breached, so consensus is not achieved. Disagreements fester for years or even decades, and scientific advancement is hindered. 

One of the most important functions of the Health Physics Journal, as well as other peer-reviewed journals, is to serve as a forum for radiation protection professionals to lodge constructive criticism of authors’ work. Indeed, this is really an extension of the peer-review process that begins with the reviews conducted before manuscripts are published. The authors’ ability to address the criticisms raised or to acknowledge previously unrecognized limits or shortcomings of their work increases confidence in their studies and helps to refine hypotheses. 

The June 2021 issue contains an excellent example of this process at work. I encourage readers to first revisit, “The Likelihood of Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes and Genetic Disease from the 1945 Trinity Atomic Bomb Test​,” by Dr. John Boice, which appeared in the October 2020 issue. Then read the criticisms raised by Dr. Joe Shonka and the responses to those criticisms presented by Dr. Boice and Dr. Steve Simon and colleagues in the June 2021 issue. This interchange of ideas and criticisms, conducted in full public view, is a vital part of the scientific enterprise.

Editor's Pick: 

Published January 2021

Current Issue

Contamination Measurements from Simultaneous Activated Potassium Bromide Radiological Dispersal Devices with a Collimated Vehicular Sensor

Simerl, Nathanael; Beavers, Jace; Milburn, Jacob; More

Health Physics. 120(6):618-627, June 2021.

Surveillance of Depleted Uranium-exposed Gulf War Veterans: More Evidence for Bone Effects

McDiarmid, Melissa A.; Gaitens, Joanna M.; Hines, Stella; More

Health Physics. 120(6):671-682, June 2021.