8 June 2015
Specific Purpose: I am going to be informing my classmates about the development of X-rays and their use in the medical field. Thesis: Almost everyone knows that X-rays exist and generally what they are used for, but I am going to explain more about their development, use, and risks involved. I. Introduction
a. Almost everyone has had exposure to X-rays for one medical reason or another, but the medical field has come a long way since these important rays were discovered. i. According to Early History of X-rays by Alexi Assmus, a German scientist named Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895 first discovered X-rays. ii. On December 22nd 1985, the first X-ray image was captured of the left hand of Roentgen’s wife. (Waters). b. As published in an article in National Geographic x-rays today are used in a variety of ways including in the medical field, in space exploration, observing natural phenomena we couldn’t see before such as photosynthesis, and creating microscopes able to see objects ten times smaller than ever viewed by a traditional microscope. II. Body
a. X-rays were first discovered by accident when Roentgen was experimenting with cathode radiation, which was done in a similar way to fluorescent light bulb tubes. i. His first discoveries were that the newly discovered rays would pass through less dense substances like papers, and human tissue, but the rays would cast a shadow of bones and metal objects onto a piece of film. ii. Once news of his discovery spread, scientists everywhere were able to duplicate his experiments because cathode tubes were very popular among scientists at this time. iii. Roentgen won the very first Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery in 1901 and by World War I x-rays were commonly used clinically to address bone fracture and gun shot wounds. b. With the use of radioactive rays, there is a certain degree of risk associated with exposure to x-rays. i. According to WebMD clinical x-ray machines work by sending electromagnetic radiation through the body. ii. This radiation is able to pass through clothes, tissues, and organs, but is not able to pass through bone. iii. The radiation that passes through your body then comes in contact with a film, or digital radiation detector to create an image. iv. The amount of radiation that does not pass through the body gets absorbed and is the “radiation dose” a patient gets for their x-ray. v. Increased exposure to this radiation can increase one’s chance of developing cancer later in life. c. In pregnant women this radiation, in any dose is especially harmful to their soon to be baby. i. In a New York Times article commemorating the life of physicist Ernest Sternglass, it was stated that Sternglass first discovered that exposure to x-ray radiation in pregnant mothers harmed their developing fetus and caused higher rates of infant mortality and childhood leukemia. ii. It is possible to compare the amount of radiation you receive from one x-ray procedure and compare it to the amount of natural radiation absorbed in our surrounding environment. d. There is an entire field of science that is still being pioneered through dealing solely with x-rays. i. In astronomy x-rays are used to view black holes and their activity since no light is emitted and they are also used to locate other stars and galaxies. ii. In the field of biology x-rays are used to capture images of ultrafast moving molecular reactions that we were unable to observe before such as photosynthesis. iii. In addition to medical imaging, x-ray therapy is used to kill cancer cells by damaging the DNA of the cells using radiation, however this procedure can cause harm to other cells in the body and needs to be carefully planed out. III. Conclusion
a. As one of the most important breakthroughs in the medical field x-rays make it possibly to view the structure and integrity one a person’s bones without using a scalpel and kill harmful cancer...
Cited: Waters, Hannah. “The First X-Ray, 1895” The Scientist 1 July 2011: n.p. Web.
Discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen.
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