Bernard Cohen Bio

Bernard Cohen

Professor Emeritus of Physics,
University of Pittsburgh

Curriculum Vita

    Some of my publications that are most currently useful are accessible below. Items 1-6  and 9
are in PDF format that can be read with Adobe Acrobat. Items 7,8, and 10-16 are text only. .
Items 1,2,7,8,14 and 16 deal with our test of the linear-no threshold theory of radiation
induced cancer, based on lung cancer rates vs radon exposures in U.S. counties. #7 is the best
place to start in reading about that study; it reviews and justifies the procedures, with  special
emphasis on treatment of confounding factors.  #1 is the basic paper published in 1995. #2 is an
extension involving substantial additional data. #8 is a less technical fairly recent review of that
project, but parts of it are superseded by #7. Several other papers on that study are included in
my list of publications in the CV. Item #14 is a response to a criticism of that work published in
a British journal. Item #15 is a response to a very interesting observation by Puskin relevant to
that work. Item #16 is my response to a letter by Mossman published in the July 2003 edition of
Health Physics News.
Items 3 and 9  are  wide ranging review papers, analyzing the validity of the linear-no
threshold theory.
Item 4 is the latest version of my Catalog of Risks, my attempt to put the risks we all face
into perspective.
Items 5, 6, 10, and 11 deal with my work on radioactive waste.  #5 gives a rather complete
technical treatment of my probabilistic risk analysis (PRA) of wastes from generation of
electricity. #10 is a recent brief presentation of the PRA, emphasizing a modified viewpoint. #11
is a less technical broad overview of the risks from high level radioactive waste. #6 deals with the
issue of discounting in assessing far future health impacts, such as those considered in items
5,10, and 11.
Item 12 is my book “The Nuclear Energy Option” published by Plenum Press in 1990.
Figures are missing (few are important for understanding the text) and the editing is deficient,
but otherwise,
the material is there.
Item 13 gives instructions for anyone to access our data on which #1 is based.
    1. Test of the linear-no threshold theory …. (8.8 MB PDF)
    2. Update of test of the linear-no threshold theory …. (4.0 MB PDF)
    3. Cancer Risk from Low-Level Radiation
    4. Catalog of risks (17.0 MB PDF)
    5. Risk Analysis of Buried Wastes from Electricity Generation (5.0 MB PDF)
    6. Discounting in Assessment of Future Radiation Risks (5.1 MB PDF)
    7. Treatment of Confounding Factors in a Test of the Linear-No Threshold Theory, or

Test of Linear-No Threshold Theory: Rationale for Procedures (186 kB HTML)

  1. Test of the Linear-no Threshold Theory-Recent Semi-popular  (71 kB HTML)
  2. The Cancer Risk from Low Level Radiation (601 kB PDF)
  3. Probabilistic risk analysis of a high level radioactive waste repository (37 kB HTML)
  4. Perspectives on the risks from buried high level waste (98 kB HTML)
  5. Book-The Nuclear Energy Option (1.5 MB HTML)
  6. Instruction for accessing data file (6 kB HTML)
  7. Response to The potential for bias in Cohen’s ecological analysis of lung cancer and residential radon (23 kB HTML)
  8. Response to suggestion by Puskin of an alternative explanation of my data
  9. Response to Mossman Letter to Editor, Health Physics News, July 2003
  10. Understanding the Toxicity of Buried Radioactive Waste and Its Impacts

Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh




Birth:  June 14, 1924, Pittsburgh, PA




B.S., Case-Western Reserve University, 1944

M.S., University of Pittsburgh, 1947

D.Sc., Carnegie-Mellon University, 1950




Permanent Positions:

1950-58:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory

- Group Leader for Cyclotron Research

1958-1994:  University of Pittsburgh

- Professor of Physics

- Adjunct Prof. Of Chemistry

- Adjunct Prof. of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

- Adjunct Prof. of Radiation Health,Grad. School of Public Health

- Adjunct Prof. Of Environmental and Occupational Health, GSPH

- Director, Scaife Nuclear Laboratory (1965-78)

1994-present: University of Pittsburgh, Professor-Emeritus


Temporary Positions (1-9 months):

1959-60:  – General Atomic Co., LaJolla, CA

1962:     – Institute for Defense Analysis, Washington, D.C.

1964:        –    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1965:     – Brookhaven National Laboratory

1969:     –  Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory

1971:     – Stanford University

1974-75:  –  Institute for Energy Analysis, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

1975:     – Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, CA

1978-79:  –  Argonne National Laboratory



Member, National Academy of Engineering

Am. Physical Society Bonner Prize(Nuclear Physics) – 1981

Am. Nuclear Society Public Information Award – 1985

Health Physics Soc. Distinguished Scientific Achievment Award -1992

Am. Nuclear Society Walter Zinn Award (Advancement of Nuclear Power)-   1996

Am. Nuclear Soc. Special Award (Health Effects of Radiation)-1996

Landauer Award (Health Physics Soc. – N. California Section) – 1981




Chairman, Am. Physical Society Div. of Nuclear Physics – 1974-75

Chairman, Am. Nuclear Society Div.of Environmental Sciences – 1980-81

National Council, Am. Assn. of Physics Teachers – 1973-78

Chairman, Health Physics Soc. Intersociety Liaison Com. – 1984-86

Chairman, Am. Physical Society Bonner Prize Committee – 1982

President, Physical Society of Pittsburgh – 1963-64

President, West PA Section, Am. Assn. of Physics Teachers – 1969-70





Am. Physical Society Panel on Public Affairs – 1977-79

Am. Assn. of Physics Teachers Com. on Science Education for the

Public – 1977-79

ASTM Sub-Committee E-06.4109 on Radon Infiltration into Buildings

ASTM Sub-Committee D-22.05 on Indoor Air Quality

ASTM Sub-Committee E-10.04.43 on Radiation Protection Cost-Benefit

Am. Physical Society Bonner Prize Com. – 1970, 1976, 1982

Am. Phys. Soc. Div. of Nuclear Physics

- Executive Com. – 1970-73, 1973-76

- Com. on Economic Concerns (Chairman) – 1973-76

Am. Nuclear Soc. Div. of Environmental Sciences

- Publications Com. – 1977-78

- Program Com. – 1978-79

- Executive Com. – 1979-82

Health Physics Society – Publications Com. 1988-1991, 1994-1997

Health Physics Society – Committee on Risk Assessment 1988-1994

Health Physics Society – Public Information Committee 1991-1994

Royal Society of Canada Committee on Health and Safety -1989





American Council on Science and Health

Americans for Energy Independence

Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)




Heart of the Atom, Doubleday (1967) -Translations in French, German,    Italian, and Japanese

Concepts of Nuclear Physics, McGraw-Hill (1971) -Translation in

Arabic, Republished by Tata McGraw-Hill (India)

Nuclear Science and Society, Doubleday (1974)

Before It’s Too Late: A Scientist’s Case for Nuclear Power, Plenum

(1983) – Translation in Turkish

Radon, Consumer Reports Books (1987), Avon Books (1989)

The Nuclear Energy Option, Alternative for the Nineties, Plenum

(1990)-Translations in Japanese and Spanish




about 300 articles in Scientific journals

about 80 articles in other journals and books




-about 160 invited papers at scientific meetings


-about 500 invited visiting talks at universities, laboratories, etc.


-Invited talks in 47 U.S. States (+DC), 6 Canadian Provinces,

6 Australian states and territories, 7 Japanese prefectures,

24 other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America


-about 50 television appearances, about 100 radio appearances

-TV appearances include shows with Barbara Walters, William

Buckley, Charlie Rose, Geraldo Rivera, Rolanda




Health effects of radiation

Probabilistic risk assessment

Radon problems

Plutonium problems

Radioactive waste

Societal risks and risk aversion

Energy and the environment

Nuclear physics