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Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was the first scientist to observe and record X-rays, first finding them on November 8, 1895. He had been fiddling with a set of cathode ray instruments and was surprised to find a flickering image cast by his instruments separated from them by some distance. He knew that the image he saw was not being cast by the cathode rays (now known as beams of electrons) as they could not penetrate air for any significant distance. After some considerable investigation, he named the new rays "X" to indicate they were unknown.

The discovery of X-rays, as well as their unique properties, electrified the general public. Röntgen became a celebrity almost overnight, and several of his colleagues (against his objections) tried to rename the new form of radiation "Röntgen Rays".

Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen
Credit: Public Domain


A service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/GSFC

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