What Was The First Medical X-Ray Of?
Answer: A Hand
X-rays were discovered in 1895 when German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen stumbled upon them during his experiments with Lenard and Crookes tubes (early experimental electrical discharge devices). Specifically, he discovered that a form of invisible rays were passing through one of his experimental enclosures and causing a fluorescent effect on a screen painted with barium platinocyanide near his experiment.
Fascinated by the discovery and its implications, Röntgen invested himself in studying what he called X-rays (the X signified the unknown, as he had yet to establish what precisely he was dealing with). In the course of his research he stumbled upon what would prove to be the most significant element of his discovery: the medical application of X-rays. After passing X-rays through a variety of materials and objects from his lab, he exposed a photographic plate with his wife’s hand resting on it. Upon seeing her bones laid out like a skeleton on the film, she exclaimed “I have seen my death!”
Image courtesy of the University of Freiburg.