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History of X-Ray

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Radio waves including all light belong to an electromagnetic spectrum although they are considered to be of different kinds of electromagnetic waves depending on their varying wave lengths. There are those that have longer wave lengths like micro waves whereas there are those that have shorter wave lengths like gamma rays (Herman, 2009).   An X-radiation is composition of x-rays. X- Rays are a form of electromagnetic waves. These waves are characterized by a wavelength of between 0.01 - 10 nanometers. Their frequency and energies rage from 30 pet hertz to 30 exahertz and 120 eV to 120 KeV respectively. Their wave lengths are shorter compared to UV rays but are relatively longer than those of gamma rays.

History of the x-rays

            English scientists were investigating light and dark in the early 1850's. They looked on how they appeared in sealed lead material glass tubes. They studied the rays emitted at the cathode and discovered that the rays cast shadows which were deflected by magnetic fields. The unique nature of these rays is that they were immune to the effects of static electricity force. There was a strong reason in believe that cathode rays were particles and could not pass through substances transparent to ultra violet light. However a German scientist Heinrich hertz found out that cathode rays could pass through metal foil. His fellow German scientist Philip Lenard gained interest to know more about the rays. He decided to study them more carefully. He then designed a kind of a tube that had a thin aluminum window through which the cathode rays could appear from. He took measurements on how far the rays could travel and still induce fluorescence. However Roentgen's research pursuits were not in the same line of work compared to Heinrich and the likes of Lenard. Roentgen's father was a cloth manufacturer and a merchant from the Rhine province (Wayne, 1946). Roentgen interests to study the cathode came in the year 1895. His study of cathode rays led him to the course of reaping the experiments of Hertz and Lenard. In 1899 roentgen was offered a position in the city of Munich there stood a chance for him to develop physics there.       

Discovery of x-rays

            It is believed that the discovery of the x rays in the year 1895 was the start of a revolutionary turn over to the human understanding of the physical world. Rector Wilhelm Conrad is believed to be the father of x- rays. This means that he was the first person to discover x-rays. This came by in the corresponding year to his appointment to the leadership role in Wurzburg University in his fiftieth birthday during the winter season (Wayne, 1946).

            Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was born in the year 1845 and died in the year 1923. He was a professor of physics and in October 1895 became the director of physics institute in the university Wurzburg. This was the time he was turning fifty years of age and was much interested in the work of Lenard, hertz, Hillorf and Crookes. Rontgen had obtained a Lenard tube from Muller in June that same year and performed various experiments that Lenard had created earlier on.  He previously had observed the same effects that Lenard had made while producing cathode rays freely in the air. He became so captivated by this and went on with his studies and put all his concentration in one activity of producing the x-rays (Wayne, 1946).

            In November 8, 1895 on a Friday in the evening, he decided to work alone in the laboratory. This is because in the first place it was the start of a weekend and his assistants had taken a weekend break. As usual , using the Crookes tube he had set up his experiment where he fitted it with both an anode and a cathode apart from one another in the tube by only a few centimeters. In his experiment, he produced a different result by registering a few thousand potential volts bearing in mind that from the cathode, a stream of charged particles would originate and the definitely attracted to the anode. Rontgen laboratory that he worked in during that evening was not different from other laboratories of his predecessors. It was the same but the only thing that was different was the conditions that were present during that evening that he carried out his experiment.

            The conditions were different in a three ways, first his laboratory had no light hence it was very dark. Secondly the tube he was using in his experiment that evening was covered cardboard jacket that was light proof and lastly a few feet away from his apparatus lay a screen of fluorescent materials on the table. He suddenly noticed a shimmering light on the table while passing the discharge and could not believe what he saw with his naked eyes. He once again repeated the experiment releasing the discharge as many times a possible and he was surprised to achieve the same results each time. He came to  the realization that the screen gave out a green fluorescence. Due to his excitement, he repeated the experiment many times moving the screen further away but the end result was the same. Rontgen had knowledge that the florescence was not produced by the cathode rays since it was known that cathode rays could not go through the wall of the tube. Visible light on the other hand was exceptional because the tube was covered with a shield which could no allow light to pass through since it was opaque to light. This reasoning made him conclude that he must have been producing some radiation that was new to the knowledge of this world.

Rontgen's discovery made him spend eight weeks in his laboratory repeating his experiments to try to know more about this radiation that he had discovered. He even slept and took his meals from the laboratory. He tried to study these rays and know whether they could pass through other substances other than the air. He placed different objects between the tube and the screen but of course with different intensities that was dependent to the type of material in use. However something shocked him. When he placed a lead material he was holding in his hand on the cathode ray path, he found out that a shadow circular formed on the screen. The shadow formed along with the outline of his fingers and thump. He then made his wife Berth to place her hand for fifteen minutes on a photographic plate while he showed it with the rays.

Rontgen then quickly turned on making a note to present his first report about a new kind of rays so that it could be published in the proceedings of the medical society of the university of Wurburg in the year 1895 December 28. He never knew that the rays he had discovered will be given the name x- rays (Wayne, 1946).                   

How the world got used to x-rays

            The x-rays grew roots as they got absorbed in the new world filled with professional character. X-rays found their way especially into the field of health. They now started to be custom used in some hospitals although many found the idea ambiguous and were doubtful. Many of the hospitals were suspicious and found it hard to absorb the new practice of using x-rays in medical extermination of patients. Some hospitals had x-rays rooms but never wanted them to be noticed and so never brought the idea to the light. The rooms were far out of many hospitals linage of work.  Many hospitals went forcing the new doctors joining the hospitals to run operations in the x-ray rooms. From time to time, the x-ray existence was tested in courts finding out whether they were real and valid. The x-ray issue became a topic of discussion in the society. The number of x-ray cases increased prompting a major boost to x-ray acceptance in the community. It immerged that the newly found x-rays could cure cancer. It was also found out that the x-rays could also cure skin disorders hence became a tool to depilatory beauty .

Negative effects caused by x-rays.

            In the cause of the x-rays finding their way into the society generated several countable negative side effects. Many problems started emerging that included cancer, burnings, swellings, infections and many other sorts' bodily harms. This forced the concerned parties to start reinvestigating on the mechanics used to generate x-rays most importantly the whole x-ray process. Concerning Marie curies discovery of radium, scientist came up with a new realization that during producing x-rays, radiation was also produced .


            X-ray has come way distance since its discovery by Rector Wilhelm Conrad in a small dark laboratory in Germany. Its future could not be predicted since at first the mechanics behind their creation were not familiar to many not until the rest of the scientist later matured the phenomenon. Their discovery was excellent to the medical industry today because they are used in specialized fields within the industry.   

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