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Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

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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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

Heroes of Progress: Wilhelm Rontgen

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

humanprogress.org

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

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.

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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