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Celebrate the X-Ray’s contributions to science in November

When: Nov. 8

What: Some modern era discoveries were made by accident, as with the X-ray, also known as the Röntgen ray. But within weeks of its discovery in 1895, it was being used to examine bones, and by 1896, it was being used for medical examinations. Recognize this pioneering discovery in medical imaging on Nov. 8, the anniversary of its discovery.

Background: In 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen was experimenting with vacuum tube equipment by sending an electrical charge through them. He was repeating an experiment in which a thin aluminum window was added with a cardboard covering. He noticed that the window, which had been painted with barium platinocyanide, was glowing. After further experimentation, he determined there was an unexpected type of electromagnetic radiation at play, which he deemed X-rays.

Story Pitch:  X-rays are famous for their use in medical imaging, and although they are still widely used, research professionals and medical equipment companies can also take this day to expand on their new forms of imaging, such as magnetic particle imaging. What are the myriad of ways in which X-ray imaging has been improved upon in terms of quality and safety? X-rays have also been used in other disciplines like physics and astronomy, so researchers in those fields and science educators shouldn’t ignore this day. Educators in particular can focus on projects that encourage students to freely experiment and leave their minds open to unexpected discoveries as a result. The use of X-rays is also common in construction and fabrication to check the quality and strength of welds, concrete and other bindings. So, businesses that produce construction equipment or that help clients comply with quality and safety standards will want to take this day to speak on their methods that might use less than commonly known technology to produce the best results.

Story Hook: Harnessed X-rays can also be put to use treating diseases like cancer. What are some other medical and non-medical uses for X-rays? Keep the following in mind when making your pitch:

  • What are safety issues involved with using X-rays, and where do they occur naturally?
  • What are alternative methods of medical imaging?
  • How are X-rays used in other fields of research and science?
  • What are industrial and engineering applications for X-rays?

Tips: Be sure to provide contact information for a medical imaging specialist or astronomer who has experience using X-rays professionally.


American Association of Engineering Societies
(202) 296-2237

American Astronomical Society
(202) 328-2010

Radiological Society of North America
(630) 571-2670

The National Association of Portable X-ray Providers
(800) 533-9729

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
Event Dates  from CHASE’S Calendar of Events

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