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Monday, 8 November 2010

Google celebrates the 115th anniversary of the discovery of x-rays

Very useful, even revolutionary at the time it was discovered, but somehow dangerous. Read this attentively!
X-Rays are a form of x-radiation composed of rays and their discovery was credited to the German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895.  Their most common use is in crystallography and diagnostic radiography where hard x-rays are used to penetrate solid objects in order to view their insides. Hospitals, dentists and vets use x-rays regularly to study things such as breaks in bones and damage to tooth structure by decay or other means. 
X-rays have a longer wavelength than the more commonly known Gamma rays, a form of radiation given a wider audience thanks to the Incredible Hulk’s alter-ego Bruce Banner.  In the comic book Banner believed gamma radiation would imbue him with greater strength but the experiment went horribly wrong and he became a rampaging green beast (with stretchy pants). All forms of radiation can be dangerous and extreme exposure can lead to death, skin cancer and organ failure, sickness and internal bleeding.  X-Rays are however a relatively minor dose and are as such not a significant threat to the subject’s health. It is stated that exposure to radiation by a father closely prior to the time of conception can cause his child to be born with leukaemia, whereas x-ray investigation in pregnant women is more likely to increase the risk to the unborn child than the mother.
A widely used shield against radiation is lead which is so successful due to its density.
Gimmicky gadgets like x-ray specs and some iPhone apps claim to grant the user the power to see people’s underwear (according to the incredibly misleading pictures they advertise with) but the truth is that if they really worked we’d actually be seeing the person’s bones which would be far less appealing. All in all, x-radiation has been a revelation and a life saver since its discovery 115 years ago.
Please share your thoughts on this article by leaving a comment.


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