Monday, January 25, 2021

#FreeHistorySci: The discovery of X-rays

FREE AstroScience is a 360° science blog, We want start from now a series about the most important minds of the past hundred years. We refer to the scientists and inventors who have had the honor of being awarded the most prestigious award in the fields of physics, chemistry and medicine, the Nobel Prize.

Without wasting any more time, today, we start this new cycle by talking about Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, German physicist and engineer, winner of the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901.

Röntgen was born in 1845 in Lennep in Germany, spent his adolescence in Holland and at the age of 17 he enrolled in the technical school of Utrecht, from which, however, he was expelled for refusing to report the name of a classmate who he had drawn a caricature of a teacher. For this reason, he never got a high school diploma.

Subsequently, however, despite not having a baccalaureate, Röntgen managed to pass the admission test of the Zurich Polytechnic (now known as ETH), and here he studied mechanical engineering for three years. After also obtaining his doctorate in physics, he had an important academic career, remaining in the field of experimental physics. Röntgen's research was concerned with studying the properties of crystals and subsequently studying the interactions between gas and thermal radiation.

After numerous experiments on cathode ray tubes, in 1895, Röntgen observed rays, hitherto unknown, which managed to penetrate the matter. Röntgen I call them momentarily X-rays, based on the use of "x" in mathematics to indicate an unknown factor. After this discovery, Röntgen managed to produce the first medical radiography using the hand of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig as the subject.

Precisely for the discovery of X-rays, or Röntgen rays in his honor, the German physicist received the first Nobel Prize in physics in 1901.

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