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Rontgen discovers X-rays

Posted in Anniversary, Medicine, Science on Thursday, 28 October 2010

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picture, Wilhelm Rontgen, X-ray

Wilhelm Rontgen discovers X-rays at his laboratory in the University of Würzburg. Illustration by Wilf Hardy

8 November marks the anniversary of the discovery of X-rays in 1895. Wilhelm Röntgen, born in 1845, was a physicist and professor at various universities in Germany. Whilst studying the effects of electrostatic charges on vacuum tubes, he accidentally discovered a radiation was causing a faint shimmering on a screen nearby. Speculating that it was caused by some unknown ray, which he dubbed X-rays, he spent the next few days experimenting and, less than two weeks later, took the first X-ray photograph of his wife’s hand. News of his discovery was presented in a paper published in December.

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