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In the 1850s, scientists (such as Faraday) began experimenting with high-voltage electrical discharges in tubes filled with rarefied gases. It was later found that these discharges created an invisible, penetrating form of very high frequency electromagnetic radiation. This radiation was called an X-ray    , because its identity and nature were unknown.

As described in Things Great and Small , there are two methods by which X-rays are created—both are submicroscopic processes and can be caused by high-voltage discharges. While the low-frequency end of the X-ray range overlaps with the ultraviolet, X-rays extend to much higher frequencies (and energies).

X-rays have adverse effects on living cells similar to those of ultraviolet radiation, and they have the additional liability of being more penetrating, affecting more than the surface layers of cells. Cancer and genetic defects can be induced by exposure to X-rays. Because of their effect on rapidly dividing cells, X-rays can also be used to treat and even cure cancer.

The widest use of X-rays is for imaging objects that are opaque to visible light, such as the human body or aircraft parts. In humans, the risk of cell damage is weighed carefully against the benefit of the diagnostic information obtained. However, questions have risen in recent years as to accidental overexposure of some people during CT scans—a mistake at least in part due to poor monitoring of radiation dose.

The ability of X-rays to penetrate matter depends on density, and so an X-ray image can reveal very detailed density information. [link] shows an example of the simplest type of X-ray image, an X-ray shadow on film. The amount of information in a simple X-ray image is impressive, but more sophisticated techniques, such as CT scans, can reveal three-dimensional information with details smaller than a millimeter.

An X ray image of the chest is shown. It shows the section of the heart with artificial heart valves, a pacemaker, and the wires used to close the sternum.
This shadow X-ray image shows many interesting features, such as artificial heart valves, a pacemaker, and the wires used to close the sternum. (credit: P. P. Urone)

The use of X-ray technology in medicine is called radiology—an established and relatively cheap tool in comparison to more sophisticated technologies. Consequently, X-rays are widely available and used extensively in medical diagnostics. During World War I, mobile X-ray units, advocated by Madame Marie Curie, were used to diagnose soldiers.

Because they can have wavelengths less than 0.01 nm, X-rays can be scattered (a process called X-ray diffraction) to detect the shape of molecules and the structure of crystals. X-ray diffraction was crucial to Crick, Watson, and Wilkins in the determination of the shape of the double-helix DNA molecule.

X-rays are also used as a precise tool for trace-metal analysis in X-ray induced fluorescence, in which the energy of the X-ray emissions are related to the specific types of elements and amounts of materials present.

Gamma rays

Soon after nuclear radioactivity was first detected in 1896, it was found that at least three distinct types of radiation were being emitted. The most penetrating nuclear radiation was called a gamma ray     ( γ size 12{g} {} ray) (again a name given because its identity and character were unknown), and it was later found to be an extremely high frequency electromagnetic wave.

Questions & Answers

What is the difference between potential difference and electromotive force
Neba Reply
basically potentiometer is series circuit or parallel circuit?
muhammad Reply
What is half-life
Godwin Reply
the life in which half of the radioactive element decay
what is fluid
Anthony Reply
anything that flows is Liquid.
a substance that has no specific shape
How submarines floats one water the same time sink in water
Courage Reply
A submarine has the ability to float and sink. The ability to control buoyancy comes from the submarine'strim or ballast tanks which can be filled with either water or air, depending on whether the submarine needs to floator sink. When the submarine floats it means its trim tanks are filled with air
define electromagnetic radiation
what is work
Ojo Reply
Force times distance
product of force and distance...
Is physics a natural science?
Adebisi Reply
what is the difference between a jet engine and a rocket engine.
Samuel Reply
explain the relationship between momentum and force
Joseph Reply
A moment is equivalent multiplied by the length passing through the point of reaction and that is perpendicular to the force
How to find Squirrel frontal area from it's surface area?
Pooja Reply
how do we arrange the electronic configuration of elements
Muhammed Reply
hi guys i am an elementary student
benedict Reply
are you an elementary student too?
no bro
what is the four equation of motion
what is strain?
Change in dimension per unit dimension is called strain. Ex - Change in length per unit length l/L.
strain is the ratio of extension to length..=e/l...it has no unit because both are in meters and they cancel each other
How is it possible for one to drink a cold drink from a straw?
Karanja Reply
most possible as it is for you to drink your wine from your straw
state the law of conservation of energy
Sushma Reply
energy can neither be destroy or created,but can be change from one form to another
it can neither be created nor destroyed
its so sample question dude
what is the difference between a principle and a law?
Mary Reply
where are from you wendy .?
you are beautiful
are you physics student
laws are ment to be broken
hehe ghulam where r u from?
principle are meant to be followed
south Africa
here Nigeria
principle is a rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.
Rules are meant to be broken while principals to be followed
principle is a rule or law of nature, or the basic idea on how the laws of nature are applied.

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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