Ok today I want to talk about X-Rays, why, well because yesterday I went and had an X- Ray of my right knee. It is still sore after I had the fall on the 17th June it is getting better, it’s just slow and the doctor wanted me to have an X- Ray to see what is happening. This made me think of about X-Rays we take them for granted now days but how many of us know how long they have been around for.
I knew that the first X-Ray was in the late 1800’s but wasn’t sure when or who discovered/invented X-Rays. So I decided to do a little research and find out.
The year was 1895 and a German by the name of Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was experimenting with vacuum tubes and cathode ray generators, he was testing the effect of firing the cathode ray (they are beans of electrons) within the tube and their remote effect on a nearby fluorescent screen. Understand that, nope, that’s ok neither do I………………
A shimmer of light was appearing, suggesting that an invisible ray was being produced in the tube. It was only when he attempted to track these rays when he noticed that a piece of cardboard did not hinder the effect. He tested with thin pieces of metal next, finding varying levels of transparency to the rays, however was shocked when he saw a skeletal hand on the screen – the shadow of his hand.
He spent the next weeks experimenting with these X-Rays, named after the common mathematical unknown, finally taking a famous image of his wife’s hand that shocked the world. Within a month, the technology was being used to image fracture bones, even though the rays were still a scientific mystery.
He was awarded the first Nobel Physics prize in 1901 for his discovery.
His discovery transformed medicine almost overnight. Within a year, the first radiology department opened in a Glasgow hospital, and the department head produced the first pictures of a kidney stone and a penny lodged in a child’s throat. Shortly after, an American physiologist used X-rays to trace food making its way through the digestive system. The public also embraced the new technology—even carnival barkers touted the wondrous rays that allowed viewing of one’s own skeleton.