The A B C of the X rays (1896)

Oct 23, 2013 by

xraysThe A B C of the X Rays (1896) by William Meadowcroft will open up your eyes to how far we have come in such a relatively short time.  Imagine what medical science is capable of today: mri’s cat scans, and of course xrays among other wonders, then peek into this book and look at xrays in the late 19th century.  Amazing!

A few words from the introduction:

“Although the main object of this book is to present to the reader a practical explanation of apparatus and methods employed in producing and utilizing the X rays, the present chapter will be treated as a general introduction of the subject. The object in so doing is to set forth a general outline of Professor Roentgen’s discovery and, incidentally, to correct certain popular misconceptions that have arisen as to some of the phenomena and the methods of their utilization.

Looking back along the years of the present century, we see within their bounds the greatest development and progress that has blessed the world since the beginning of time. A mere enumeration of the discoveries and inventions contributing to comfort, safety, and convenience that have been made since the year 1800 would fill many large volumes. If we should single out from this host only a few of those that are conspicuous by their greatness, such as the Introduction of Illuminating Gas, the Steam Engine, the Railroad, the Steamboat, the use of Anaesthetics, the Electric Light, (Arc and Incandescent), the Electric Railroad, the Electric Transmission of Power, and the X rays, we cannot but be powerfully impressed with the wonderful progress made within the past years of the nineteenth century.

It seems fitting that the discovery of the wonderful phenomena of the X rays should be made as the hands upon the clock of the century are completing their round, as it was the logical result of research and experiment founded upon the most advanced kind of intellectual and scientific study and attainment. How far reaching this discovery may ultimately prove to be in the arts and sciences it is impossible at this time to predict, but within the few months in which it has become known and practiced, the wonderful effects have been practically applied to the alleviation of much suffering, and we have at this moment at our command a mysterious power for good that it would have seemed sheer folly to even hope for only one short year ago.

The discovery of the X rays was made towards the end of the year 1895 by Professor William Konrad Roentgen, professor of Physics at the Royal University of Wurzburg, in Germany. He had for many years made a study of phenomena arising from the action of currents of elecricity in glass tubes more or less exhausted of air, known as Geissler, Crookes, or Vacuum tubes. In the year 1894 some new phenomena in this line of experiment had been noted by Professor Lenard, an assistant of Hertz….”

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