Who invented the X-ray?

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HAVE you ever had undergone an X-ray procedure? X-rays are used to analyse problems with bones, teeth and organs in the human body, to detect cracks in metal in industry, and even at airports for luggage inspection.

Did you know that the invention of the X-ray wasn’t intentional?

The scientific and medical community will forever be indebted to an accidental discovery made by German physicist
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895.

While experimenting with electrical currents through glass cathode-ray tubes, Röntgen discovered that a piece
of barium platinocyanide glowed even though the tube was encased in thick black cardboard and was across the
room.

He theorised that some kind of radiation must be travelling in the space. Röntgen didn’t fully understand his discovery so he dubbed it X-radiation for its unexplained nature.

To test his newfound theory, Röntgen enlisted the help of his wife for his first X-ray photos and captured images of the bones in her hand and her wedding ring in what would become known as the first röntgenogram.

He discovered that when emitted in complete darkness, X-rays passed through objects of varying density, rendering the flesh and muscle of his wife’s hand mostly transparent.

The denser bones and the ring left behind a shadow on a special photographic plate covered in barium platinocyanide.

The term X-radiation or X-ray stuck although it is still sometimes referred to as the Röntgen ray in German-speaking countries.

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The Petri Dish is malaysia’s first dedicated science newspaper. Through The Petri Dish we aim to engage the public on the latest developments on biotechnology.