Today marks the anniversary of the accidental discovery of the X-Ray. From History.com:~On this day in 1895, physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (1845-1923) becomes the first person to observe X-rays, a significant scientific advancement that would ultimately benefit a variety of fields, most of all medicine, by making the invisible visible. Rontgen’s discovery occurred accidentally in his Wurzburg, Germany, lab, where he was testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass when he noticed a glow coming from a nearby chemically coated screen. He dubbed the rays that caused this glow X-rays because of their unknown nature.
X-rays are electromagnetic energy waves that act similarly to light rays, but at wavelengths approximately 1,000 times shorter than those of light. Rontgen holed up in his lab and conducted a series of experiments to better understand his discovery. He learned that X-rays penetrate human flesh but not higher-density substances such as bone or lead and that they can be photographed.
Rontgen’s discovery was labeled a medical miracle and X-rays soon became an important diagnostic tool in medicine, allowing doctors to see inside the human body for the first time without surgery. In 1897, X-rays were first used on a military battlefield, during the Balkan War, to find bullets and broken bones inside patients.
It also says ~Wilhelm Rontgen received numerous accolades for his work, including the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901, yet he remained modest and never tried to patent his discovery. Today, X-ray technology is widely used in medicine, material analysis and devices such as airport security scanners.~
X-Rays have long been a staple of the Science Fiction genre. It is an idea that captivates the imagination. Being able to see through things. Superman with his X-Ray vision. Then are the X-men, with Cyclops. These devices have thrilled and intrigued us for decades. I know it will continue to do so. I remember reading the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. All the scientific stuff that made the idea of The Monster plausible. Anyway, it truly is bigger than life. As Sam Spade says in The Maltese Falcon “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of”.
Posted by Estel