The X-ray celebrates its 150th Birthday today and as a present google has given it a special google doodle

X-Rays were first observed in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a German scientist who stumbled upon them accidentally when experimenting with cathode rays late at night in his lab. The fifty-year-old scientist covered a vacuum tube with black cardboard in a darkened room and switched on an electric current. He was astonished to see a greenish-yellow glow appear on a cardboard screen that was lying on a chair several feet away.

A week later, he took an X-ray photograph of his wife’s hand which clearly showed her wedding ring and her bones.

Roentgen called the rays ‘X’ to indicate they were an unknown type of radiation. He ordered that his lab notes be burned after his death, meaning that much remains unknown about how he made his breakthrough.

X-rays are generated by a vacuum tube that uses a high voltage to accelerate the electrons released by a hot cathode to a high velocity. The electrons then collide, creating X-rays.

X-rays are used in many applications, the most well-known is of course used almost ever single second in hospitals around the world. Taking pictures of broken limbs has become the primary use for this part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. It shows a difference in density of tissues, Bones absorb more of the radiation than the surrounding tissue so they appear much more dense than the rest of the picture allowing us to examine fractures in the body easily.

Other uses include looking at crystal structures which helped determine the structure of DNA, fine art is often x-rayed to check what is underneath the final layer of paint and bag scans at airports