Last modified on 19 July 2014, at 01:02

Wilhelm Röntgen

I did not think; I investigated.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (27 March 184510 February 1923) was a German physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range today known as x-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.


It seemed at first a new kind of invisible light. It was clearly something new, something unrecorded.
  • In a few minutes there was no doubt about it. Rays were coming from the tube which had a luminescent effect upon the paper. I tried it successfully at greater and greater distances, even at two metres. It seemed at first a new kind of invisible light. It was clearly something new, something unrecorded.
    • As quoted in "The New Marvel in Photography", by H. J .W. Dam, in McClure's magazine, Vol. 6, No. 5 (April 1896), p. 416

Quotes about RöntgenEdit

  • Röntgen has familiarized us with an order of vibrations of extreme minuteness compared with the smallest waves with which we have hitherto been acquainted, and of dimensions comparable with the distances between the centers of the atoms of which the material universe is built up; and there is no reason to suppose that we have here reached the limit of frequency.
  • The lesson of the laboratory was eloquent. Compared, for instance, with the elaborate, expensive, and complete apparatus of, say, the University of London, or any of the great American Universities, it was bare and unassuming to a degree. It mutely said that in the great march of science it is the genius of the man, and not the perfection of the appliances, that breaks new territory in the great territory of the unknown. ...the discoverer himself had done so much with so little.
    • H.J.W. Dam, "The New Marvel in Photography," McClure's Magazine 6:403 (April, 1896)
  • Röntgen was an experimental physicist of the old school and built most of his own equipment. ...It was Rontgen's custom, when beginning new investigations, to repeat important experiments made previously by others in the same field. Since he was repeating Hertz' and Lenard's experiments with cathode rays, he used an armamentarium employed by those workers... he extended his experiments to include a Hittorf-Crookes' tube... when he discovered the new rays. The whole room was darkened... Röntgen suddenly saw a few brightly fluorescent crystals which lay on the table at some distance from the tube.

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