X-rays were accidentally discovered by the physicist Wilhelm Roentgen while he was studying the cathode rays produced by an electrical current passed through a glass tube. Despite the fact that the tube was encased in a black cardboard box, Roentgen noticed that a barium-platinocyanide screen, inadvertently lying nearby, emitted fluorescent light whenever the tube was in operation. With further experiments, he determined that the fluorescence was caused by invisible radiation of a more penetrating nature than ultraviolet rays. He named the invisible radiation "x-rays" because of its unknown nature.

In January of 1896, Roentgen presented his findings to the Wurzburg-Medical Society. He demonstrated his discovery with an x-ray of the hand of a famous anatomist, von Kolliker.

Roentgen was the recipient of the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901 for this discovery.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canada Museum of Science and Technology, Musée de la civilisation, Stewart Museum, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Museum of Health Care at Kingston, University Health Network Artifact Collection, University of Toronto Museum of Scientific Instruments, University of Toronto Museum Studies Program

© CHIN 2001

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