Röntgen discovers the X-ray (590 words)

Historical Context Essay

  • Stephen Burn (University of Glasgow)


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-Rays in his lab in Würzburg on the evening of 8 November, 1895. He had been experimenting with cathode rays since June of the previous year, and that night was surprised to see a green ray that evidently emanated from the cardboard-covered cathode tube shining on a piece of paper. Almost immediately Röntgen began to explore the penetrative properties of the rays and became deeply introspective. For the next month he ate little, ignored his wife Bertha, and obsessively repeated his experiment to ensure that he had not made any mistakes. Finally, on 22 December, he took Bertha to his lab and took an x-ray photograph of her hand. Röntgen had expected his wife to be pleasantly surprised by the novelty,…

Burn, Stephen. "Röntgen discovers the X-ray". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1338, accessed 26 October 2016.]