X is for…


XWe all know what x-rays are, right? Sure we do, just like we know what electricity is. (We really don’t.)

As (probably) mentioned, I had to get x-rays of my back recently because it’s hurting me so {bad word} {bad word} much, so I decided that x-rays should be my topic for X. Cuz, why not? I mean, they are really quite cool, if you think about it! They can see right through our skin to our bones underneath.

For funsies, I consulted my 1921 edition of Collier’s New Encyclopedia, and under “X-Ray”, it directed me to see “Roentgen Rays”. So I returned book 10 to the shelf and pulled out book 8 (“Resp to Soviet”), and winding my way to page 90, found that x-rays were discovered by German scientist William Conrad Von Roentgen in November of 1895.

The encyclopedia doesn’t say much about Roentgen, except that he was born in 1845, was a professor, and received the Noble Prize for physics in 1901. A quick google search tells me he died in 1923 at age 77, and that he did not patent his discovery, as he wanted mankind as as whole to benefit. (Isn’t that nice?!?!?)

My encyclopedia says a lot more about his discovery, including the fact that he is the one who dubbed them “x-rays”.  The entry also explains: “it was possible by means of … cathode rays … to obtain ‘shadows’ of objects … and to produce an impress of these ‘shadows’ on photographic plates.”

It adds: “Besides obtaining radiographs of the bones of the living human hand, Professor Roentgen radiographed a compass card completely inclosed in a metallic box. … The Roentgen rays pass very freely through the various tissues and fluids of the body, but are obstructed by the bones; hence it is possible to take a perfect shadow-picture … of the bones of a living person.”

The best quote, tho is: “The full physiological effects of the X-rays are not yet clearly understood. Experiments show that long exposure to the rays causes acute maladies of the skin and also baldness.”

Of course, now we know a lot more about what x-rays do to our tissues, but they remain an invaluable tool in the diagnoses of various diseases.

For instance, I told you about my pal Andrew F. Butters, whose daughter was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis in March 2014, and whose journey they detail on the family blog. The most amazing thing is this x-ray (the ‘shadows’) of her back, before and after:


I mean, without x-rays, they’d never have known the extent of the curve in her back!

In comparison, here’s the x-ray of my back, which is (obviously) not as severe, but which (apparently) shows scoliosis and arthritis:


No wonder I feel like I’m shrinking!

And finally, for a bit of x-ray humor, here is one of my grandmother’s hip. The surgeon was surprised to see her extra “growth”. :)

grandmother's hip

FYI, if you’re really a geek/ nerd, you can actually visit Roentgen’s lab in in Würzburg, Germany, which contains an exhibition of historical instruments, machines and documents.

More ramblings / other posts you might want to read...


About dSavannah

~ #disabled #spoonie fighting numerous, chronic, painful #InvisibleIllnesses ~ also #wife #feminist #ally #advocate #papyrophiliac #DogCatTurtleWrangler
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