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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wilhelm Rontgen and X-rays


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Nobel Foundation


Wilhelm Rontgen (1845-1923) was a German physicist best for producing and detecting electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength also known as X-rays. Weapons scientist Otto Glasser said,


"Rontgen was an experimental physicist of the old school and built most of his own equipment... It was Rontgen's custom, when beginning new investigations, to repeat important experiments made previously by others in the same field." (Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen and the Early History of the Roentgen Rays, 1934)


The biographical profile by the Nobel Foundation says,


"Rontgen retained the characteristic of a strikingly modest and reticent man... He was always shy of having an assistant, and preferred to work alone."


Below is one of Rontgen's first X-ray photographs of Albert von Kolliker's hand in 1896. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons



The rest of this of this post is some quotes from Rontgen.


Discovery of X-rays


"Having discovered the existence of a new kind of rays, I of course began to investigate what they would do... It soon appeared from the tests that the rays had penetrative power to a degree hitherto unknown. They penetrated paper, wood, and cloth with ease; and the thickness of the substance made no perceptible difference, within reasonable limits." (The New Marvel in Photography, 1896)


"In a few minutes there was no doubt about it. Rays were coming from the tube which had a luminescent effect upon the paper... It seemed a first a new kind of invisible light. It was clearly something new, something unrecorded." (The New Marvel in Photography, 1896)


"If the hand be held between the discharge-tube and the screen, the darker shadow of the bones is seen within the slightly dark shadow-image of the hand itself." (On a New Kind of Rays, 1895)


"I was working with a Crookes tube covered by a shield of black cardboard. A piece of barium platino-cyanide paper lay on the bench there. I had been passing a current through the tube, and I noticed a peculiar black line across the paper." (The New Marvel in Photography, 1896)