November 8, 1895: German Scientist Discovers X-Rays
On this day in 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen became the first person to observe X-rays. The discovery occurred accidentally after he noticed a glow on a nearby screen while experimenting with the passage of cathode rays through glass. He named the phenomenon “X-radiation” echoing the unknown nature of the incident at the time.
In 1901, Rontgen became the recipient of the first Nobel Prize for physics due to the revolutionary effects of his discovery regarding modern physics and diagnostic medicine.
Take a tour of NOVA’s Electromagnetic Spectrum interactive to learn about the range of X-rays, microwaves, gamma rays and more.
Photo: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, Discoverer of X-Rays in 1895. (Generalstabens Litografiska Anstalt/ Wikimedia Commons)