A Look at the History of X-Ray Machine and Its Inventor Röntgen
From first-generation machines to films to the cutting-edge digital x-ray machines, a lot of advancements have been made in the field of radiography. Many got early diagnoses, received proper treatment, and lived happy lives thanks to x-ray machines. But how did it all start? What led to the discovery of this revolutionary machine, and who was behind it? Let’s briefly discuss all of this below:
From Inception to the Modernization of X-Ray:
X-rays were discovered by the Nobel Prize winner; Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895. After that, many significant and revolutionary discoveries have been made in this field. In 2010, some researchers tested the first-gen X-ray machine from 1896 and found that the radiations it produced were 1,500 higher than the radiations of modern x-ray equipment.
Moreover, the time needed for the patient to say under the radiations was 90 minutes for these first-generation machines, while the modern equipment only requires 20 milliseconds for the same. Except for some blurring, the century-old machine surprisingly provided good images with precise anatomical details.
This was the first time these drastic changes were seen between the old and new x-ray machines. Since then, several innovations have been made, and this technology has become more sophisticated, especially with the futuristic digital x-ray machines.
It is evident that the x-ray technology has come a long way with dramatic improvements and significantly lower image processing and radiation-exposure times making it safer for humans.
Story of Röntgen:
Now that we talked a bit about the history of x-ray machines let’s discuss the life of the father of this technology. Surprisingly, Röntgen never completed college and didn’t even get a high school diploma – which explains why he never finished college. Anyways, despite the credentials, he became a renowned physicist, and in 1969, he even got a Ph.D. from Switzerland’s finest, University of Zurich. Right after this, he got several offers to teach at universities.
Many of the students and colleagues referred Röntgen as a genius or scatterbrain because he used to jump from topic to topic during his lectures, but what can we say genius breeds insanity! Anyways, most of the famous experiments done by Röntgen, including the x-ray, were carried out in secret without any witnesses.
There is a famous saying; great things happen when you least expect them, which perfectly describes the discovery of x-rays. Röntgen was not even looking for something like x-rays, he was experimenting with cathode rays in his lab to prove that if the rays are powerful enough, they can also penetrate glass. But instead, he discovered a new ray that he temporarily named X-ray.
When by chance, Röntgen discovered x-rays, he slept and ate in his lab until he further investigated this new finding. It is safe to say that he was very private about his research and discoveries because he even ordered his findings to be destroyed after his death.
Whatever people might think about Röntgen or his accidental discovery, we have to accept that x-rays have changed medical science. Some of the hard to diagnose issues ranging from cancers to small fractures can now be identified, and lives can be saved.
Röntgen lived a quiet and private life and didn’t leverage his success and discoveries to become famous and rich. In fact, he never patented his most popular invention, which would’ve made him loads of wealth. Röntgen even donated all of his Nobel Prize money to a university.
In the end, we can only say that even an x-ray cannot help us understand how the brain of a genius works; this secret stays with them like Röntgen.