Material relating to Röntgen and the Discovery of X-rays

Scope and Content

This section comprises material relating to Röntgen and his discovery of X-rays in 1895.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1895 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was the professor and head of the department of physics at the Julius-Maximillan University at Würzburg in Germany. On the 8 November of that year, he was working with cathode rays using evacuated glass bulbs. Röntgen noted that when a current was passed across the bulb, a barium platinocyanide screen was seen to fluoresce. He at once realised the significance of this observation. Simultaneously he noted the effect of the new phenomena on photographic plates. On the 28th of December 1895, his manuscript "On a New Kind of Ray" outlining the essential features of X-rays was submitted to the Würzburg Physical Medical Institute. The new discovery aroused considerable interest. The description of the ability to see through the body was greeted by many with considerable incredulity and early descriptions made pains to reassure the public that this was indeed a serious discovery by a respected scientist. Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize for physics in 1901.