Amazing, fun and inspiring facts about radiology

X-rays have been around for a long time.

X-rays were discovered and developed by a German physicist named Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. Within months of his announcement, physicians and surgeons were using them to detect foreign objects in the body. Within a year, the news and technology were being used in this country, to find bone fractures and treat gunshot wounds.

X-rays helped unlock the secrets of DNA.

Thanks to a form of X-rays, scientists were able to see the double-helix structure of DNA in the early 1950s.

X-rays are used in many ways.

X-rays have been used in the art world to examine paintings, discovering rough sketches and even other paintings beneath a visible surface. They reveal the truth about priceless artifacts, such as ancient Egyptian mummies or fossils, without damaging them. X-rays are used to look into space, gaining insight far beyond our solar system.

X-rays have advanced medical treatments.

X-rays revolutionized tuberculosis treatments. Chest X-rays allowed physicians to detect shadows on the lungs earlier, making tuberculosis treatments more effective due to early diagnosis. X-rays were also used to burn off moles early in their history. Today, X-rays (radiotherapy) are used to treat some forms of cancer.

X-rays will always have an air of mystery.

The “x” in “X-ray” stands for “unknown.” Roentgen named them X-rays because he detected the rays but didn’t know quite what they were.

The first X-ray did not impress the “patient.”

Roentgen’s first X-ray was of his wife’s left hand and showed her wedding ring. But when she saw the image, she exclaimed, “I have seen my death!”

X-rays went through a period of novelty.

Until it was known that X-rays were dangerous for those exposed to them, they were used as a novelty at carnivals and circuses like modern photo booths. Shoe stores even used X-rays to ensure a better fit of the shoe using the shape and size of the bones?

Roentgen refused to patent X-rays.

Roentgen wouldn’t patent his discovery, deciding that if he did, their use would be too limited due to cost. Roentgen envisioned the widespread benefits that could come from X-rays and their use, and he wanted all of humankind to benefit.

X-rays are among the oldest and most useful medical technology.

Because x-rays have been around so long, and have such amazing uses in imaging, they are often called the most useful medical advancement. Despite multiple technological advancements in imaging, X-rays are still the most common form of imaging used by medical professionals.

One of the greatest inventors was afraid of X-rays.

For a number of years, Thomas Edison worked on creating an X-ray light bulb. He canceled the project after his team members developed cancer and died due to radiation exposure. Edison no longer wanted to talk about x-rays and declared that he was afraid of them.