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Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

https://humanprogress.org/article.php?p=2089

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Wilhelm Rontgen

Wilhelm Rontgen

The German scientist was the first person to identify electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength that we today know as an x-ray.

The most common usage of x-rays includes detecting broken or fractured bones, heart problems, breast cancer, scoliosis, and tumors. X-ray machines are used to help save the lives of millions of people.

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Early life of Wilhelm Rontgen

  • Röntgen was born on March 26, 1845, in Lennep, Prussia.
  • He enrolled in the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich as a student of mechanical engineering in Switzerland.
  • In 1869, Röntgen obtained a Ph.D. and became an assistant professor.
  • By 1874, he qualified as a Lecturer at Strasbourg University and became a professor in 1876.
  • In 1888, Röntgen moved to become Chair of Physics at the University of Würzburg, where he made his world-changing discovery.

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Discovering a new type of ray

Discovering a new type of ray

On November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Röntgen was conducting experiments using a cathode ray tube. He noticed that when he used the cathode ray tube, a board on the other side of his lab that was covered in phosphorus began to glow. Even if he covered the tube's light in a thick black cardboard box, the phosphorous board continued to glow.

It became clear to Röntgen that he had discovered a new type of ray.

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Developing the discovery

After many experiments, Wilhelm Röntgen found that many materials were transparent or translucent when interposed in the path of the rays. These materials included paper, wood, aluminum, and very importantly, skin and flesh.

A few weeks later, he took the first picture - a radiograph of his wife's hand. Röntgen published a paper on December 28, 1895, detailing his discovery titled “On a New Kind of Rays.” The news spread over the next two years. His discovery of the x-ray fundamentally changed medial practices forever.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur

Louis Pasteur is known as the father of microbiology. He is renowned for developing the germ theory of disease, creating the process of pasteurization, and for changing the way sci...

The life of Louis Pasteur

  • He was born on December 27, 1827, to a poor Catholic family in Jura, France.
  • In 1842, he graduated with a degree in science from the Royal College of Besançon. A year later, he started studying at École Normale Supérieure, and in 1848, Pasteur was appointed professor of chemistry at the University of Strasbourg.
  • In 1856, Pasteur started to study fermentation to help a local wine manufacturer overcome the problem of alcohol souring.

The "spontaneous generation" theory

Before Pasteur, people believed the doctrine of "spontaneous generation" - that life spontaneously appeared from non-living matter.

This theory was used to explain why food spoiled and how infection developed. Pasteur disproved this theory.

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Lucy Wills

Lucy Wills

Lucy Wills was a hematologist who discovered that folic acid could be used to prevent life-threatening types of anemia in pregnant women.

Will's research into women's health...

The life of Lucy Wills

  • Lucy Wills was born on May 10, 1888, in Sutton Coldfield, England.
  • Her father was a science graduate, and her mother was the daughter of a doctor, thus she received a robust scientific education.
  • In 1903, she attended Cheltenham School that train female students in science and mathematics.
  • In 1907, Wills began studying natural sciences and botany at Newnham College, an all-women's college.
  • In 1915, Wills enrolled at the London School of Medicine for Women and became qualified in 1920.
  • She taught and researched in the department of pregnant pathology at the Royal Free Teaching Hospital in London.

Starting to study anemia

In 1928, Lucy Wills was recruited to India and tasked to investigate why millions of pregnant women in the developing world suffered from a severe and often deadly form of anemia.

She found the red blood cells of anemic pregnant women were extremely swollen and consequently not carrying enough hemoglobin. Wills first thought that a bacteria or virus might have caused anemia. But she noticed that richer women in India who had a more nutritious diet were less likely to become anemic during pregnancy.

Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar, an American anesthesiologist and medical researcher, created a test to assess the health of new-born babies quickly and to find out if infants need immediate neonatal medica...

The life of Virginia Apgar

  • She was born on June 7, 1909, in Westfield, New Jersey.
  • Apgar focused on a career in the medical industry due to her two brother's medical problems. (One died due to tuberculosis, and the other lived with a chronic illness.)
  • In 1929, Apgar earnt a degree in zoology, and in the same year, she began her medical training at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.
  • She obtained her MD in 1933 and began a two-year surgical internship. She was advised to make a career in a new field of study, anesthesiology.
  • She later became the director of the newly established division of anesthesia at the Presbyterian Hospital.
  • In 1949, she became the first female to hold a full professorship in anesthesiology at P&S, affording her more time to do research.

Infant mortality in the U.S.

Virginia Apgar noticed that although infants mortality declined between 1930 and 1950, the death rate for babies in the first 24 hours after birth stayed the same.

Apgar began recording the differences between healthy newborns and newborns requiring medical attention. She created a test to asses the health of newborn babies.