Today is World Radiography Day, when imaging professionals around the world celebrate one of science's greatest gifts to humanity - the discovery of X-rays.
Along with Fleming’s discovery of penicillin and Banting and Best’s first successful use of insulin, Wilhelm Röntgen's chance finding on November 8th 1895 that invisible rays from a cathode ray tube could pass through objects and cause a specially-treated screen nine feet away to glow has changed the course of medicine.
Wilhelm Röntgen, 1845-1923
Röntgen called these emissions X-rays on a whim to reflect their mysterious and unknown nature. He intended the name to be temporary but, as we all know, it stuck and attempts to later call them Röntgen rays were unsuccessful.
He continued to experiment and noted that the rays appeared to pass through human soft tissue but not bone. To test this finding, he took an X-ray picture of his wife Bertha’s hand. After observing the results, she is said to have remarked: “I have seen my death!"
The X-ray of Bertha Röntgen's hand, with her wedding ring clearly visible
X-rays and the subsequent rapid and continuing advances in medical imaging technology have changed the way medicine is practiced and have led to innumerable new diagnostic techniques and treatments. Without them, clinicians would be grasping in the dark.
So, 127 years to the day after William Röntgen made his discovery, we celebrate the wonderful force for good that it has become and the inspiring work of radiographers across the globe.
Around the UK, special events and celebrations are taking place which we will follow on our social media channels so keep an eye out for the #WRD2022 hashtag.
The Society's chief executive Richard Evans (left) is accompanying Ross on a tour of radio stations to give interviews on the significance of World Radiography Day so you may want to listen out for those.
We’ll also be featuring a roundup of #WRD2022 in the December issue of Synergy.
Meanwhile you can download the fantastic winning entries in our annual World Radiography Day Poster Competition by following the link below. There are also colouring sheet versions to keep you busy on these long winter evenings! As Ross says, well done to all who entered.