Rays of Hope – Roentgen, Wilhelm Konrad
German scientist, A man of ‘The German Thoroughness,’ Prof. Roentgen discovered X-rays on November 8, 1895.
Roentgen Scientist experimented with the cathode ray tube, by catching the shadow of bones in his hand on a photographic plate.
Roentgen Scientist discovered X-rays while studying the phenomenon of fluorescence, a form of luminescence.
Fluorescence is the emission of light of certain wavelength [usually ultra-violet (UV)] when exposed to light of shorter wavelength.
Roentgen Scientist was studying cathode rays (beams of electrons), the phosphorescent stream of electrons used in modern times in every gadget from television to fluorescent light bulbs.
Roentgen Scientist Experiment : to determine if he could see cathode rays escaping from a glass tube completely covered with cardboard. While performing the experiment, he noticed that a glow appeared in his darkened laboratory several feet away from his cardboard covered glass tube.
Roentgen Scientist realized that some rays were passing through the glass tube and cardboard and appearing on a fluorescent screen kept over a yard away.
In the room where Roentgen Scientist experimented, there was no source of UV light. Therefore, he concluded that the phenomenon of fluorescence involves rays of a new kind.
As he was unable to clearly identify these rays, he called them X-rays. The X-rays could easily pass through solid structures, thus detailing their texture. The X-rays are electromagnetic waves of of very short wavelength.
Roentgen Scientist concluded that these rays are different from cathode rays, could penetrate solids and record shadows of human bone on a photographic negative.
X-rays are used not only for taking skiagrams of structures in the body but also in treating cancer and other diseases.
Diagnosis-wise, X-ray photograph of lungs to detect diseases, is very popular. X-rays are employed in the detection of stones in kidney, gall bladder.
Fractures of bones could be detected. X-rays are also employed to know the structure of crystals, diamonds, etc. They are employed in the screening of radiopaque metallic bodies, for checking baggage in aerodromes.
They can also detect cracks in structures (buildings and bridges). CAT scanner (Computerized Axial Tomography) is a sophisticated method of evaluation of bodily disorders and diseases.
Scientist Roentgen who received the first Nobel Prize in Physics after its institution in 1901, refused to obtain the patent right for his discovery. He could have become a multi-millionaire by patenting the X-ray idea.
Roentgen Scientist opined that this discovery should benefit entire mankind and should not remain in the grip of a chosen few.
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