We had previously looked at the unusual invention that is the Microwave Oven, invented by Dr Percy Spencer, when he walked in front of a magnetron with a bar of chocolate in his pocket.
Inventions that happen by accident are rather cool to read about, but the reality is that accidental or not, you do kind of have to be looking, in order to spot the remarkable happening in the first place.
So this week we take a look at the invention of the X-Ray...
Whilst perhaps not as ‘by mistake’ as the Microwave, the discovery of the X-Ray and its’ impact on the medical world as a whole and the impact it has had specifically on capturing images of bones cannot be underestimated.
In 1895 German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was experimenting with electrical currents through glass cathode-ray tubes (as you do...).
The physicist observed that a piece of barium platinocyanide elsewhere in the room glowed, even though the glass tube he was using was encased in thick black card. Unsure what he had discovered, Röntgen called it X-Radiation (the X being the unexplained part that you have to try and answer!)
The romantic part to the story (or unromantic if you consider what could have happened) was that the Physicist experimented on his discovery using his wife's hand. He created the first X-Ray photos by capturing images of the bones in her hand and her wedding ring at that. Röntgen went on to observe that when the X-Rays were emitted in darkness, the flesh and muscle became mostly transparent. Röntgen was awarded with the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
Like the Microwave, the X-Ray highlights that whether you are experimenting, creating or making, what you first set out to do, can evolve and develop over time, and it’s a lesson to all of us on our self starter journeys.