X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation. What are electromagnetic radiations you ask!? Electromagnetic (EM) waves are energies emitted by atoms vibrating at different speeds. This causes them to have different natures. These radiations do not need a medium to travel. One of the EM waves which you encounter everyday is the light that is visible to us. Others include UV-rays which can burn our skin (sunscreen check!), IR rays which let you change television channels through your remote, and microwaves, sneaky waves that you use to heat up your food just right, to name just a few.
In 1895, a German scientist, Wilhelm Röntgens was working in his laboratory on a project when he noticed that a chemically coated screen was glowing. He did not know the nature of the rays that caused the screen to glow and denoted it with an X. These unknown rays have ever since been known as the X-RAYS.
He experimented with these rays and found that they could pass through muscles but could not penetrate bones higher-density substances such as bones and teeth. Due to this property they could be photographed. The first X-ray photo ever taken was of his wife’s hand. Röntgen was recognized world wide when he was awarded with the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901. He always remained humble of his accomplishments and never filed for a patent. He believed in the advancement of technology to be used for the betterment of humanity.
X-rays were soon used as a diagnostic tool in the medical field which allowed the doctors to look at patients’ bones and teeth without surgery. But scientists quickly realised that X-rays might have harmful effects, including cases of skin burn and cancer. The scientific community has since been cautious towards these radiations and limiting their use. Lead jackets are also used as a safety equipment as X-ray cannot penetrate lead either due to its density.
Have you ever had an X-Ray taken?
- Anika Vashisht