What are the wonders of X-Rays?

          X-rays are invisible electromagnetic radiations. Their wavelengths are smaller than those of the visible light. They are high-energy rays. That is why they have high penetrating power. They can pass through the flesh of our body. They travel with the speed of light.

          These rays were discovered by a German Scientist, Prof. Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895. They are sometimes called ‘Roentgen rays’ also. They were called X-rays (X means unknown) because these were not known earlier. For this wonderful discovery, Prof. Roentgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize of Physics in 1901.

          The apparatus used for producing X-rays is called ‘X-ray tube’. This tube is made up of hard glass and is fitted with two electrodes which are connected to high voltage power supply. The electrode connected to the negative terminal is called cathode and the one connected to the positive terminal is called anode. Low pressure is created inside the tube by pumping out air from it. When high voltage is applied between the electrodes, electrons emerge from the cathode and hit the ‘anode’ or the ‘target’. As a result the X-rays come out of the tube.

          X-rays are very useful for us. They can pass through substances like wood, paper, skin, flesh etc. but are absorbed by bones, iron, lead etc. Doctors make use of X-rays to detect the dislocations and fractures of bones. They are also used to examine the diseases of lungs and presence of stones in kidneys and gall-bladder. X-rays are allowed to fall on the body part to be examined and a photograph is taken on the photo film kept behind that part. In this film the portion of bones appears grey. From these X-ray photographs, the areas affected by the disease or defects are located easily.

          X-rays are also used in treating cancer. With the help of these rays, gold and other valuable gems hidden in the body are detected easily. They are also used to detect cracks and bubbles in the iron used for constructing bridges and buildings.

          X-rays have a damaging effect on the body’s cells. That is why a person is not exposed to X-rays quite often. Using soft X-rays, instruments like CAT (Computerized Axil Tomography) scanners have been developed to detect body abnormalities.