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The Love Story Behind the Discovery of X-rays: How Röntgen Saw Through His Wife’s Hand and Heart

The renowned discoverer of X-rays, Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen, is a distinguished German physicist. February 14, 2023 marks the centennial commemoration of his demise. In contemporary medicine, X-rays have become a customary diagnostic tool employed by physicians to penetrate the human anatomy. Nevertheless, at the conclusion of the 20th century, when Röntgen initially unveiled this revelation, it triggered a frenzy in society, even inciting panic. Numerous individuals harbored the belief that any garments they donned were perilous.

Ultimately, Röntgen persevered through the onslaught of criticism and prevailing public sentiment, ultimately substantiating the actual existence and monumental significance of X-rays. Consequently, he became the inaugural recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics on a global scale!

Nonetheless, scantily known to the masses is the fact that the world’s maiden X-ray photograph was captured of the hand of Röntgen’s cherished wife, Anna Berta Ludwig, exhibiting the unmistakable visibility of their love’s symbolic wedding ring. During that juncture, after enduring numerous romantic disappointments and facing professional setbacks, Röntgen ultimately encountered Anna, who enabled him to perceive the crystal-clear essence of love. What kind of compassionate and enduring tale unfurled between them?

The enchanting woman resembles a nebulous cloud, evanescent when the wind blows.

On the afternoon of March 27, 1845, Röntgen was birthed in Lenape, located in western Germany. Nestled amidst mountains and rivers, this realm boasts a resplendent environment, with the handicraft industry flourishing exceptionally. Roentgen’s father, Friedrich, operated a textile factory, while his mother, Charlotte Flowe, embodied a benevolent homemaker hailing from an esteemed lineage in Utrecht, proximate to Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

When Roentgen reached the tender age of 3, his family relocated to the Netherlands, a land of stability, settling in the picturesque city of Apeldoorn. From early childhood, Roentgen exhibited a profound fascination with machinery. As he approached the culmination of his primary education, his mother believed it imperative to grant him the opportunity to embark on solitary endeavors, broadening his horizons. Consequently, she dispatched Roentgen to his grandfather’s abode.

Subsequently, Roentgen commenced his educational journey at the local secondary institution, Utrecht Technical School. Within the classroom, he frequently posed inquiries regarding mechanical quandaries, eliciting amusement from his peers and disapproval from the instructor. However, one individual held him in great esteem—Kalela Tenida. Kalela, an endearing young girl, undoubtedly bestowed upon the young Roentgen, who had ventured to Utrecht in solitude, a profound sense of joy and contentment.

One fateful day, as Roentgen and Carrera journeyed homeward from school, fortune smiled upon them, granting them passage in the carriage of an elderly gentleman. Roentgen once again pondered the enigma of windmills and sought the gentleman’s counsel. With a chuckle, the old man expounded, “This terrain is lowly, earning it the moniker ‘Low Country.’ A quarter of the land lies below sea level, rendering us perpetually susceptible to seawater infiltration. These windmills primarily serve the purpose of drainage.” Thus, Roentgen realized that machinery not only possessed marvels but also engendered amusement while contributing value to society.

In the blink of an eye, Roentgen ascended to the realm of secondary education. Unexpectedly, a mishap transpired one year prior to his graduation, disrupting all preconceived plans. On that day, his teacher, Turbel, tasked the entire class with reciting passages from the “Iliad” during their Greek lesson. Failure to perform adequately would incur severe criticism. Following the conclusion of the class, Roentgen’s classmate, Maunes, buoyed by the encouragement of those surrounding him, skillfully sketched a comical portrait of Tubell on the blackboard, eliciting uproarious laughter from the entire class.

At that precise moment, Tubell reentered the classroom. Upon laying eyes on the caricature adorning the blackboard, his visage paled with rage. However, as silence pervaded the room, instilled by fear, Roentgen remained oblivious to the teacher’s presence, continuing to chuckle as though he were the sole observer. Tubel swiftly redirected his wrath toward Roentgen. Witnessing the teacher’s fury, Carrera promptly rose to his defense, asserting, “Teacher, Röntgen did not create the portrait. I can vouch for it.”

Truth be told, Tubel was aware that Röntgen bore no responsibility for the incident and had merely sought to compel him to disclose the prankster’s identity, intending to administer a lesson to the true perpetrator. Yet, he never anticipated that regardless of his strenuous efforts, Röntgen would adamapologize on behalf of Maunes. Tubel, impressed by Carrera’s integrity, decided to spare Roentgen from punishment and instead assigned him the task of researching a topic of his choice and presenting it to the class.

Roentgen, grateful for Carrera’s intervention, embarked on his research with great enthusiasm. He delved into the world of physics, exploring various scientific phenomena and theories. As he immersed himself in his studies, he became captivated by the works of renowned physicists such as Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. Their discoveries and theories ignited a passion within him, and he realized that he wanted to pursue a career in physics.

After completing his secondary education, Roentgen enrolled at the University of Utrecht, where he studied mechanical engineering. He excelled in his studies, impressing his professors with his intelligence and dedication. During this time, he also became involved in the student community and participated in various scientific experiments and demonstrations.

It was during his university years that Roentgen met the love of his life, Anna Berta Ludwig. Anna was a kind-hearted and intelligent woman who shared Roentgen’s passion for science. They quickly formed a deep connection and soon became inseparable. Anna provided unwavering support to Roentgen throughout his academic and professional journey.

After completing his studies, Roentgen began working as a lecturer and researcher at various universities in Germany and Switzerland. He made significant contributions to the fields of thermodynamics and electrodynamics, gaining recognition for his brilliance and innovative thinking. However, it was his discovery of X-rays in 1895 that revolutionized the world of science and medicine.

Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays occurred by chance while he was conducting experiments with cathode rays. He noticed that a fluorescent screen in his lab started to glow even when it was not in the direct path of the cathode rays. Intrigued, he hypothesized that a new type of ray was being emitted from the cathode tube. He further investigated this phenomenon, shielding the tube with various materials and observing the effects.

One day, Roentgen decided to place his wife Anna’s hand in front of the tube and captured the first X-ray photograph. When he developed the image, he was astounded to see the detailed skeletal structure of her hand, including the clear outline of her wedding ring. This breakthrough led Roentgen to further explore the properties of X-rays and their potential applications in medicine.

Roentgen’s discovery of X-rays had a profound impact on the field of medicine, revolutionizing diagnostics and leading to new advancements in radiology. His work paved the way for the development of technologies such as CT scans and fluoroscopy, enabling doctors to visualize internal structures and diagnose various conditions.

Throughout Roentgen’s career, Anna remained his steadfast companion and source of support. She encouraged his research endeavors and shared his passion for science. Their love story endured through the years, and they remained devoted to each other until Roentgen’s passing on February 10, 1923.

Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen’s contributions to the field of physics, particularly his discovery of X-rays, continue to be celebrated and revered to this day. His legacy serves as a testament to the power of scientific exploration and the enduring bond between two individuals united by love and shared passions.

  A few months later, Röntgen finally realized that love is only a part of life, and career is the pinnacle of life. He cheered up and began to study with concentration. Due to his outstanding talent, he was admitted to the mechanical engineering major without taking the examination, which was an honor that Einstein never received when he was admitted.
   During his three years in college, he switched to experimental physics and re-learned related courses. When he graduated at the age of 23, due to his excellent grades, he was able to graduate early and obtain the qualification certificate of a mechanical engineer.
   After graduation, Roentgen continued to stay in Zurich and became an assistant to August Kundt, professor of experimental physics. During the day-to-day interactions, Röntgen was infected by Professor Conte’s rigorous and serious attitude toward scientific experiments. He accurately measured the ratio of the specific heat at constant volume and the specific heat at constant pressure, further improving the thermodynamic theory proposed by the German physicist Clausius. He also conducted many related experiments on the specific heat of air.
   In February 1869, Roentgen received his doctorate from the Technical University of Zurich with his outstanding paper “Study of Various Gases”. Subsequently, he followed Professor Conte to the University of Würzburg to continue studying the specific heat of gases. Here, Roentgen, who served as a private lecturer, completed the article “On the Relationship between the Specific Heat of Air under Isovolumetric and Isobaric Conditions”, which was recognized by the academic community, and he began to make a name for himself in the world of physics.
   But no one expected that these achievements did not impress the members of the academic committee of the University of Würzburg. They refused to grant Roentgen the lecturer qualification on the grounds that he “did not obtain a high school diploma.”
   Röntgen was annoyed by the professors’ obsolete rules, but there was nothing he could do about it. At this moment, a young female professor named Dafti tried her best to defend him against all the opinions. Röntgen saw the light of understanding and trust in her eyes, just like when Carrera testified for him, he felt extremely warm!

   In this way, they became friends who talked about everything and often discussed physics problems together. Often, Roentgen would be impressed by her unique insights. And she also admired Roentgen’s talent. They are like wind meeting rain, water meeting fish. They get along well with each other, but they are independent individuals. They are close friends. Although they cherish each other, they never go too far.
   Slowly, Roentgen felt that he must have fallen in love with her. The smart Dufty saw through his mind at once, and actually told him a result that he could not have imagined: “You can’t love me because I’m pregnant, and my boyfriend went abroad, even though he abandoned me.” , but I still want to give birth to this child.”
   This news was so shocking that Roentgen tried to calm himself down: “Do you want to be an unwed mother?” Dafti nodded: “The child is innocent.” Roentgen was crazy Looking at this strong girl with fascination, how difficult is it for a wounded single woman to raise a child?
   “Now, you won’t say you love me anymore, will you? We can only be confidants.” Dafty smiled, but there was a hint of bitterness. Roentgen felt a sadness in his heart, and his love soon overcame his concession. If you love someone, you should love everything about her: “I still love you, let’s start over, believe me.” In the following days, Roentgen’s love for
   Dafti The care became more attentive, and as Dafty’s belly slowly swelled, their feelings gradually warmed up. But Dafty did not let Roentgen be completely obsessed with Tenderness, but encouraged him over and over again: “Although some professors are stereotyped and stereotyped, you have to believe in your own talent. Only continuing research is the only goal and way out. ”
   Roentgen held Dufty’s hand and decided to devote more energy to research. At that time, the electromagnetic theory of the British physicist Maxwell had just been established, and there was still a lot of room for research and expansion.
   Roentgen seized this opportunity, advanced the study of electromagnetism through experiments, and published a related paper. This paper was highly praised by Professor Conte and the great chemist and future Nobel Prize winner Bayer.
   However, when Roentgen rose to prominence in his career, his love suffered a sudden change. One day, he and Dufty were walking on the street together, and a carriage from the opposite side suddenly bumped into Dufty… She had a miscarriage. After the miscarriage, she became self-blame and fragile. Although Roentgen accompanied her meticulously, she remained depressed and silent. Just when Roentgen didn’t know how to enlighten him, Dufty’s ex-boyfriend Brillot came back from abroad. Brillot was her first love. He came back this time to get back together with her. He said, “Let’s start over!”
  Seeing them reconciled, Röntgen had mixed feelings. He seemed to have seen through the true meaning of love: the heart is like a heart. Knowing each other, there is a tacit understanding without words, the love is like cherishing each other, and the affection is without words. Maybe loving someone is not possessive, but knowing how to let go is also a kind of love.
  A beautiful woman is like a rainbow. When you meet someone, you will know there is
   one. Although Dufti left, Roentgen did not stop his research. In 1874, he finally passed the academic committee’s evaluation and became a lecturer at the University of Strasbourg. His achievements were increasingly known by the academic circle.
   The next year, at the age of 30, Röntgen received a letter from the University of Hohenheim inviting him to become a professor of physics and mathematics. This was a job promotion, but it was only when he arrived at the school that he discovered that the crude experimental facilities here could not support his research in experimental physics.
   The distressed Röntgen often went for walks by the river, and he found that he met a blonde girl every day. One day, they accidentally looked at each other at the same time. Roentgen smiled slightly, and the girl actually smiled too.
   It turned out that the girl’s name was Anna Berta Ludwig and she was a middle school teacher. After she learned about Röntgen’s troubles, she said softly: “The conditions here have bound your hands and feet. You should go back to the place that suits you best. A successful person should rather work hard to build the pyramids than work for others.” The courage of the desert king.”
   Röntgen seemed to have met a close friend all of a sudden. He had always been eager to show off his talents in the field in which he was proficient and conduct new research. However, he curled up in his comfort zone and enjoyed the treatment of a full professor, but in research Standing still was something he despised and hated.
   Therefore, Roentgen only stayed here for a year before following Anna’s suggestion and with the help of Professor Conte returned to the University of Strasbourg as an associate professor of theoretical physics. Moreover, he brought Anna back to the city. A few months later, they held a simple wedding.
   The next year, Röntgen, who was happily married, collaborated with Conte to complete the “Proof of Magnetic Optical Rotation on the Polarization Plane in Carbon Disulfide”, which won the praise of Helmholtz, the authority in physics at the time, and attracted the attention of the entire academic community. In just a few years, Roentgen became a leader among his peers with his outstanding research results.
   In 1879, seeing how outstanding Roentgen was, Helmholtz and Meyer, the discoverers of the law of conservation of energy, and Kirchhoff, the founder of the steady circuit law, jointly recommended him to be the director of the Institute of Physics of the University of Giessen.
   The laboratory at the University of Giessen was founded by Roentgen from the beginning by making experimental instruments. Here, his research direction turned to electromagnetism and optics.
   On the evening of Friday, November 8, 1895, Roentgen still stayed in the laboratory after get off work. While thinking about the problem of film exposure, he conducted experiments with Leonard tubes and carefully eliminated interference factors. Suddenly, the faint fluorescence reflected on the tube wall caught his attention.
   When he conducted the experiment again using a Hitov-Crooks discharge tube with a thicker wall, he was surprised to find that the fluorescence still existed. Cathode rays can only pass through a few centimeters of air, and Roentgen moved the fluorescent screen far away, and the light green fluorescence was still visible on the screen. Röntgen did not judge this sudden discovery lightly.
   He carefully checked the experimental environment again to avoid interference. Even in the dark night, he still tightly covered the curtains that had been drawn and wrapped the discharge tube tightly with black paper to eliminate all possible light interference.
   In the subsequent series of experiments, the light green fluorescence appeared again, and that magnificent, shocking thing like an aurora shone in Roentgen’s eyes. He was surprised to find that a screen coated with barium cyanogen platinite emitted against the cathode rays emitted light, and the stack of films next to the discharge tube that were originally tightly sealed now turned gray-black, indicating that they had been exposed. .
   This phenomenon, which most people would quickly ignore, aroused Roentgen’s keen interest: the change in the film just showed that the discharge tube released a new type of ray with extremely penetrating power, which could even penetrate the bag containing the film. However, It is not yet known what kind of ray it is, so it is named “X-ray”.
   From then on, Roentgen began to study this mysterious X-ray. For many days in a row, he concentrated on his work and forgot to go home. This incident aroused Anna’s suspicion and even suspected that he was having an affair. Anna is weak and has some heart problems. Now that Röntgen is not home, she seems to feel that she can’t breathe smoothly.
   She rushed to the laboratory angrily and asked Röntgen to explain the reason for her delay in returning. Roentgen didn’t know what to say, so he had to take her to the laboratory and let her see for herself the “secret” why he didn’t come home. In order to dispel Anna’s doubts, Roentgen also put a piece of photographic film wrapped in paper under her palm and took an X-ray photo of her. When Anna saw clearly the film developed by Roentgen, she said “Ah” and took several steps back in fright. The scene in front of her was like her husband had mastered a magic trick. He turned the palms of living people into piles of Skeleton.

   Röntgen told her that these were not skeletons, but her own bones. Anna’s doubts slowly dispelled, and she was surprised to find that every bone in her palm and the wedding ring on her finger were clearly visible in the photo. However, she never imagined that this would be the world’s first X-ray photo, and it would become an eternal classic.
   But at the time, this photo caused a stir in society. Due to the limitations of knowledge, people have made various criticisms and attacks on the photos of Anna’s hand bones. Some newspapers even shockingly warned ladies that no matter what clothes they wear in the future, it will be unsafe. Speculators took advantage of this opportunity to advertise aggressively to attract customers to buy their “X-ray insurance suits.”
   In order to let everyone accept X-rays, Roentgen lived in the laboratory and conducted research and experiments day and night. Finally, on December 28 of that year, he published a research report entitled “A New Ray, Preliminary Report”. On January 5, 1896, a major report about X-rays was published in the Vienna Daily News, which immediately attracted the attention of the world.
   On January 23, Roentgen held the first and only public lecture at his institute. At this lecture, Roentgen requested the use of With one hand, Klickle readily agreed to the request.
   After a while, after the dry plate was developed, the beautifully shaped hand bones of an 80-year-old man were revealed. The audience burst into applause like a storm. Klicker immediately suggested that this kind of ray be named “Roentgen ray”. The United States reported this incident for four consecutive days. After that, someone used X-rays to discover the bullet in the patient’s foot. X-rays quickly entered the medical field. Thomas Henry, a famous British surgeon at the time, called it “one of the greatest milestones in the history of diagnosis.”
   For a time, Roentgen’s discovery and Anna’s photo caused an “X-ray fever” in the scientific community. Almost all European laboratories immediately used cathode ray discharge tubes to conduct experiments and take pictures. Hundreds of scientists They became “experts” on X-rays overnight, and newspapers and magazines were filled with various X-ray photos, such as photos of skulls, hand bones, and foot bones.
   Roentgen’s discovery shocked the world! It also caused a great revolution in physics. In recognition of his outstanding contribution, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics, together with a medal and certificate, to Röntgen in 1901. In order to commemorate Roentgen, people named X-rays Roentgen rays, and the photo of hand bones that symbolizes the beautiful marriage of Roentgen and Anna is also collected in the Berlin Museum as a treasure in the history of science.
   On the night he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, Roentgen wrote a will in his study, gifting all the money to the University of Würzburg and hoping to use the money for academic research.
   Röntgen devoted himself to the research of basic science and published a total of 58 papers, each of which was concise and precise. At a time when many people in the academic world were gaining huge wealth due to their inventions and creations, Roentgen gave up without hesitation and opened the use of X-rays to all mankind when faced with the temptation of huge wealth brought by X-ray patent rights.
   Along the way, it has been the 100th anniversary of Roentgen’s death. He not only used X-rays to see through the bones of the human body, but also used his sincerity and persistence to see through the crystal clear love. It is said that life is a lonely journey, but there are always some people whose appearance will amaze the time, soften the memory, and compose a moving song.