Kamen, Martin David

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Martin David Kamen (kā´mən), 1913–2002, American biochemist, b. Toronto, Canada, grad. Univ. of Chicago (B.S., Ph.D. 1937). He discovered carbon-14, the radioactive isotope of carbon used to trace biochemical pathways and mechanisms and to date archeological and anthropological objects (see dating). He also carried out extensive research that underlies much of our understanding of the process of photosynthesis. Because of his association with Russian consular officials, whom he had met socially, he was declared a security risk in 1944 and dismissed from his job. A few years later, he was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee and his passport was revoked. Kamen spent more than a decade trying to clear his name, but in 1955 he won a libel suit against the Chicago Tribune. He wrote Radiant Science, Dark Politics: A Memoir of the Nuclear Age (1985).