X Rays from a Synchrotron Are First Used in Medical Diagnosis and Treatment (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Several physicists, including Cockcroft, Van de Graaff and Svedberg, produced synchrotron X rays for radiotherapy.
Summary of Event
Electromagnetic radiation consists of numerous types of energy that exhibit both wavelike and particle (that is, photon) properties and that travel at the speed of light, approximately 300 million meters per second. The electromagnetic spectrum ranges from low frequency (low energy), long wavelength radiations such as radio, television, microwaves, and visible light to high frequency (high energy), short wavelength radiations such as ultraviolet, X, and gamma radiations. The high frequency, short wavelength radiations are called ionizing radiations because such radiations penetrate deep within various materials, especially living tissue, and because such radiations strip electrons from atoms, thereby damaging key life molecules (for example, DNA—deoxyribonucleic acid).
X rays were first discovered by the German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895. He generated X rays by applying an electric current to the cathode (that is, negative terminal) of a vacuum tube. The cathode became heated such that it discharged a stream of electrons, which were attracted to the positively charged anode of the vacuum tube. When the electrons contacted the tungsten anode, X rays were emitted. For this discovery, Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901....
(The entire section is 2247 words.)
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