e. "On a New Kind of Ray." After processing, Roentgen had proof of his
discovery. He named the invisible rays X-rays, for the mathematical unknown in
algebraic equations. During the following month, he studied many more of the
properties of X-radiation and by Dec. 1895, he had published his paper, "On a New Kind
of Ray," informing the world of this new diagnostic tool. Roentgen received the first
Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for his work. After his discovery was made public, A.W.
Goodspeed of the University of Pennsylvania displayed an x-ray photograph that had
been accidentally made in February 22, 1890. The Goodspeed display shows that
Roentgen was not the first to produce x-rays. But, he was the first to recognize x-rays
for what they were and could do.
1-12. A NEW PHOTOGRAPHY
a. The announcement of Roentgen's discovery to the rest of the world was
greeted with widespread enthusiasm. At the same time, however, there were
widespread misconceptions as to the precise nature of these rays. Initially, radiography
was considered merely some kind of specialized branch of photography.
Photographers and physicians made most radiographs simply as a hobby.
b. "Enterprising photographers established Roentgen Studios." An 1886
price list of Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company listed such popular sizes as: 14x17,
11x14, 10x12, and 8x10. It is interesting to note that many photographs of the day were
taken on 14x17, 10x12, and 8x10 films, which are still the conventional sizes of
radiographic images used today. Many early radiographs were made on glass
photographic plates and some of these early radiographs have survived to this day. In
December 1896, Eastman Kodak Company introduced the first paper designed
specifically for X-ray purposes.
1-13. PUBLIC OPINION AND REACTIONS
a. Concerns About Impropriety. There is always fear about the implications of
a new scientific breakthrough, for example, genetic engineering in our day. Similarly, in
1901, this new breakthrough was greeted with eager anticipation and misgivings about
the potential adverse consequences of the "New Photography." In retrospect, it is
interesting and somewhat amusing to consider the misconceptions of the day regarding
the new x-rays. The misconceptions about the "New Photography" are reflected in a
poem printed in 1896 in an issue of "Photography Magazine" in which reference is
made to the "New Photography's" ability to "...gaze thro cloak and gown--and even
stays..."There was concern about potentially licentious uses for x-rays. (See poem,
other column.) These concerns reached such heights that Minister Reed of New Jersey
went so far as to promulgate a law on February 10, 1896, expressly forbidding the use
of x-rays in opera glasses! In a similar vein, a famous lingerie firm in London actually
marketed a line of x-ray-proof pants and brassieres!