SCIENCE

The X-Ray Was Invented 124 Years Ago This Month: See the First One

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The discovery of the x-ray was truly a life-changing invention that would alter the practice of medicine. Take a look at what the very first x-ray image looked like.

Today, x-rays are very commonplace, but when they were first discovered, it was an amazing step forward in the advancement of medical technology. They allowed doctors and scientists to study the inside of the human body without cutting into it. The first x-ray ever taken was captured in 1895. It doesn’t look as clear or realistic as x-rays do today, but it’s interesting to see where it all started. New amazing discoveries are still being invented today—these are the coolest scientific discoveries of last year.

The first person to discover how to capture images with electromagnetic radiation was Wilhelm Röntgen, a Professor of Physics in Würzburg, Bavaria. He was exploring the path of electrical rays passing from an induction coil through a partially evacuated glass tube. He soon realized that objects, including the human body, could be penetrated by the rays. The first x-ray he ever took was of his wife’s hand, pictured here. You can see her wedding band on her ring finger.

The year after Röntgen’s discovery, in 1896, an x-ray department had been set up at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary. There, doctors produced the first x-rays of kidney stones, an x-ray of a penny in a child’s throat, and an image of a frog’s legs in motion. Also, within the same year, Dr. John Hall-Edwards became the first doctor to make a diagnosis with an x-ray. He diagnosed a needle implanted into a woman’s hand. From there the new technology went on to help treat soldiers fighting in the war and it even appeared as an act in theatrical shows.

It was eventually discovered that continuous exposure to x-rays is harmful to humans, but in moderation, it is still used to help identify ailments and find cures. These discoveries also changed the world—and they were invented by accident.

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