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.
"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.