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11/07/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/07/2020 10:47

Exactly 125 years ago, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered by chance the x-rays.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered the X-rays by chance. At that time this was not only a scientific sensation, the idea of looking inside bodies and objects with a kind of superpower fascinated the whole of society. The discovery not only revolutionized modern medicine, but enabled a whole series of innovations that changed the world. For example, x-ray technology helps to decode our DNA, to further explore the universe or simply to make our daily world safer.


Discovered by chance and scientific curiosity

As a professor at the University of Würzburg, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, like many other physicists at the time, experimented with cathode rays. In the evening of November 8, 1895, during one of his experiments in his dark laboratory, Röntgen observed by chance previously unknown rays and called them x-rays. Nobody really knows exactly how the discovery took place, because Röntgen had stated in his will that all his notes should be burned after his death. In any case, the observation had aroused Röntgen's scientific curiosity. For the time being behind closed doors, he tirelessly explored the rays further. But as early as December 1895, he published his famous article «Über eine neue Art von Strahlen». (About a new type of rays)

'Eine neue Art von Strahlen' © Archive of Deutsches Röntgen-Museum