X-raysThe German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen changed medical care forever in 1895 when he discovered new rays produced by the impact of cathode rays on a material object, as recounted on the Nobel Prize’s website. The rays at the time were mysterious enough that he dubbed them “X-rays.” In subsequent experiments, Röntgen had his wife place her hand in the path of the rays over a photographic plate. The developed plate clearly showed the bones in her hand as well as the ring she was wearing on her finger.
Military doctors were especially enthusiastic about the new innovation because it helped them quickly locate bullets and shrapnel inside wounded soldiers, according to an article on the website of the Science Museum in London. The French physicist Marie Curie during World War I even figured out how to package an X-ray machine and darkroom equipment into a “radiological car” that could be driven to the battlefront, Georgetown University radiation medicine professor Timothy Jorgensen wrote on the website The Conversation.
By the 1930s, X-rays were a common piece of diagnostic equipment in hospitals — a disruptive innovation that greatly changed the practice of medicine for the better.