Letter | Published:

Biological Effects of Cosmic and γ-Radiation

Nature volume 128, page 376 (29 August 1931) | Download Citation



ACTINIC rays have been an important normal factor in the environment of organisms during the course of evolution, and now it is clear that rays of another category, the cosmic rays, must be regarded as having formed part of the normal environment. It is a working assumption in all bionomical investigations that every factor in the environment must be considered in regard to its possible effect upon the life of an organism: it is also possible—or even probable—that every factor in the environment has an effect upon, or is utilised by, some organism. Hence the practical demonstration of the continuous earthly incidence of the so-called cosmic rays brings a ‘new’ factor into the field of biology, and its effect needs to be assessed. Since it may now be accepted that these rays are and have been continuously incident upon and in the surface layers of waters (although the degree of their penetration into sea-water has apparently not yet been determined) as well as upon the land, most organisms are, or have been in time, subjected to them, and it is reasonable to look for some biological response.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    NATURE, 128, Supplement, July 18, 1931.

  2. 2.

    NATURE, 126, p. 29, July 5, 1930.

Download references

Author information


  1. Zoology Department, Liverpool University. June 28.

    • J. H. ORTON
    •  & S. T. BURFIELD


  1. Search for J. H. ORTON in:

  2. Search for S. T. BURFIELD in:

About this article

Publication history





By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.