Dr. Howard Markel pens medical history column for PBS

U-M’s Howard Markel, M.D., Ph.D., George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine, and Director of Center for the History of Medicine is writing a new column for PBS NewsHour, highlighting momentous events in medical history.

His first column chronicles the discovery of the X-ray by William Roentgen, a physics professor at the University of Wurzberg.

Markel writes:

"Roentgen’s ‘Eureka moment’ arrived shortly after noticing that his newly discovered beams passed through opaque objects and affected the film beneath. The results included shadowy radiographs of a set of weights, a piece of metal, and, most famously, the bones of his wife’s hand and her wedding ring. When she underwent the world’s first x-ray on a human, on Dec. 22, 1895, Mrs. Roentgen exclaimed, ‘I have seen my death.’

Because he did not know the precise physical nature of these electromagnetic beams, Roentgen referred to them as X-rays. In later years, some preferred the now lost moniker, Roentgen Rays."

To read the full column, visit PBS NewsHour.

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