Who is Wilhelm Röntgen?

Who is Wilhelm Röntgen?
Who is Wilhelm Röntgen?

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (March 27, 1845, Remscheid - February 10, 1923, Munich), German physicist. He was the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and found the X-rays.

Röntgen was born in the town of Lennep in Remscheid, Germany. His childhood and primary education years passed in the Netherlands and Switzerland. He studied at the Polytechnic University of Zurich, which he entered in 1865, and graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1868. He received his doctorate from the University of Zurich in 1869. After his graduation, he taught as a professor of physics at the Julius-Maximilians-University in Strasbourg in 1876, Giessen in 1879 and Würzburg in 1888. In 1900 he was appointed to the Physics Chair of the University of Munich and to the director of the new Physics Institute.

He died in Munich in 1923, four years after the death of his wife, in financial difficulties, amid the high inflationary economy created by the First World War.


In addition to his teaching position, he was also doing research. In 1885 he announced that the motion of a polarized permeate exhibits the same magnetic effects as a current. Like most researchers in the mid-1890s, he was studying the luminescence phenomenon that occurs in cathode ray tubes. He was working with an experimental setup consisting of two electrodes (anode and cathode) placed in a hollow glass tube called a "Crookes tube". Electrons detached from the cathode hit the glass before they could reach the anode, creating flashes of light called fluorescence. On November 8, 1895, he changed the experiment a little, covered the tube with a black cardboard and darkened the room and repeated the experiment to understand the light transmission. He noticed a glare in the paper wrapped in barium platinocyanite 2 meters from the test tube. He repeated the experiment and observed the same event each time. He described it as a new ray that could pass through a matte surface and named it "X-ray" using the letter X, which in mathematics symbolizes the unknown. Later, these rays began to be referred to as "X-ray rays".

After his invention, Röntgen observed that materials of different thickness transmit the beam at different intensity. He used a photographic material to understand this. He also carried out the first medical X-ray radiography (X-ray film) in history during these experiments and officially announced this important discovery on December 28, 1895. However, when he found the X-ray, he lost his fingers from the X-ray overdose because he used his hand in his experiments.

Although the physical explanation of the event could not be made clearly until 1912, the discovery was met with great enthusiasm in physics and medicine. Most scientists considered this discovery the beginning of modern physics.


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