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Wilhelm Rontgen Biography

Wilhelm Rontgen Biography


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (27 March 1845 – 10 February 1923) was a German mechanical engineer and physicist, who, on 8 November 1895, produced and detected electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range known as X-rays or Röntgen rays, an achievement that earned him the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. In honour of his accomplishments, in 2004 the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) named element 111, roentgenium, a radioactive element with multiple unstable isotopes, after him.
Education
Born to a German father and a Dutch mother, Röntgen attended high school in Utrecht, Netherlands. In 1865, he tried to attend Utrecht University without having the necessary credentials required for a regular student. Upon hearing that he could enter the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich (today known as the ETH Zurich), he passed its examinations, and began studies there as a student of mechanical engineering. In 1869, he graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich.
Career
In 1874, Röntgen became a lecturer at the University of Strassburg. In 1875, he became a professor at the Academy of Agriculture at Hohenheim, Württemberg. He returned to Strassburg as a professor of physics in 1876, and in 1879, he was appointed to the chair of physics at the University of Giessen. In 1888, he obtained the physics chair at the University of Würzburg, and in 1900 at the University of Munich, by special request of the Bavarian government.
During 1895, Röntgen was investigating the external effects from the various types of vacuum tube equipment — apparatuses from Heinrich Hertz, Johann Hittorf, William Crookes, Nikola Tesla and Philipp von Lenard — when an electrical discharge is passed through them. In early November, he was repeating an experiment with one of Lenard's tubes in which a thin aluminium window had been added to permit the cathode rays to exit the tube but a cardboard covering was added to protect the aluminium from damage by the strong electrostatic field that produces the cathode rays. He knew the cardboard covering prevented light from escaping, yet Röntgen observed that the invisible cathode rays caused a fluorescent effect on a small cardboard screen painted with barium platinocyanide when it was placed close to the aluminium window.
In the late afternoon of 8 November 1895, Röntgen was determined to test his idea. He carefully constructed a black cardboard covering similar to the one he had used on the Lenard tube. As he passed the Ruhmkorff coil charge through the tube, he determined that the cover was light-tight and turned to prepare the next step of the experiment. It was at this point that Röntgen noticed a faint shimmering from a bench a few feet away from the tube. Striking a match, he discovered the shimmering had come from the location of the barium platinocyanide screen he had been intending to use next.
8 November was a Friday, so he took advantage of the weekend to repeat his experiments and made his first notes. In the following weeks he ate and slept in his laboratory as he investigated many properties of the new rays he temporarily termed "X-rays", using the mathematical designation ("X") for something unknown. The new rays came to bear his name in many languages as "Röntgen rays" (and the associated X-ray radiograms as "Röntgenograms").
At one point while he was investigating the ability of various materials to stop the rays, Röntgen brought a small piece of lead into position while a discharge was occurring. Röntgen thus saw the first radiographic image, his own flickering ghostly skeleton on the barium platinocyanide screen.
Nearly two weeks after his discovery, he took the very first picture using X-rays of his wife Anna Bertha's hand. Röntgen's original paper, "On A New Kind Of Rays" (Ueber eine neue Art von Strahlen), was published on 28 December 1895. On 5 January 1896, an Austrian newspaper reported Röntgen's discovery of a new type of radiation. Röntgen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Würzburg after his discovery. Today, Röntgen is considered the father of diagnostic radiology, the medical speciality which uses imaging to diagnose disease.


Personal life
Röntgen was married to Anna Bertha Ludwig (m. 1872, d. 1919). They raised one child, Josephine Bertha Ludwig, whom they adopted at age 6 from Anna's brother in 1887.[10] Röntgen died on 10 February 1923 from carcinoma of the intestine. With the inflation following World War I, Röntgen fell into bankruptcy later in life, spending his final years at his country home at Weilheim, near Munich.
Honours and awards
In 1901, Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics. The award was officially "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him". Röntgen donated the monetary reward from his Nobel Prize to his university. Röntgen was also awarded Barnard Medal for Meritorious Service to Science in 1900.
His honors include:
  • Rumford Medal (1896)
  • Matteucci Medal (1896)
  • Elliott Cresson Medal (1897)
  • Nobel Prize for Physics (1901)
  • In November 2004 IUPAC named element number 111 roentgenium (Rg) in his honour. IUPAP adopted the name in November 2011.
Legacy
  • Today, in Remscheid-Lennep, 40 kilometres east of Düsseldorf, the town in which Röntgen was born in 1845 is the Deutsches Röntgen-Museum.
  • In Würzburg, where he discovered the X-rays, a non-profit organization maintains his laboratory and provides guided tours to the Röntgen Memorial Site.
  • World Radiology Day: The International Day of Radiology is an annual event promoting the role of medical imaging in modern healthcare. It is celebrated on November 8 each year, coincides with the anniversary of the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895. It was first introduced in 2012, as a joint initiative, by the European Society of Radiology (ESR), the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the American College of Radiology (ACR).


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