AUTHORFarmelo, Graham
TITLEThe Discovery of X-Rays
PERIODICAL TITLEScientific American
DATE PUBLISHED1995
VOLUME NUMBERn/a
ISSUE NUMBERNovember
PAGE NUMBERS86-91
ISSN0036-8733


This article describes the scientific aspects of and public reaction to the discovery of Röntgen rays, also known as X-rays. X-rays were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Röntgen, who received the first Nobel Prize in Physics, in 1901, for his discovery. Röntgen was working with cathode tubes at the time, when he saw that there were odd effects of the presence of a charged cathode tube on objects too far away for cathode rays to penetrate through air. The public reaction to the discovery was difficult for the shy Röntgen, who declined even to give a Nobel lecture. While the general public went wild over the possibilities of seeing into the human body without surgery, many scientists claimed that Röntgen was merely lucky. The article commemorates the 100 year anniversary of the discovery. It also includes early X-ray photographs, photographs of apparatus, and a list of suggested readings.


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