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World Radiography Day

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World Radiography Day is celebrated every year on November 8, marking the anniversary of the birth of X-rays. We’ve all had one done but we all take this marvelous technology for granted. It’s hard to imagine a world today where x-rays don’t exist. They’re the foundation of many medical diagnostic tools and help doctors discover a range of problems. What’s wonderful is that they do this in a matter of minutes and completely painlessly! The day also celebrates the hard-working radiographers and radiologists who make x-rays possible.


X-rays were discovered accidentally by Professor Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen of the Wuerzburg University, Germany in 1895. Röntgen was working with a cathode-ray tube in his laboratory when he noticed a fluorescent glow of crystals on a table near his tube, which contained a bulb with negative and positive electrodes. When the air in the tube was evacuated and a high voltage was applied, the tube began producing a fluorescent glow. Shielding the tube with black paper, he found that material placed a few feet away from the tube generated a green fluorescent light.

With these observations, he concluded that the tube was emitting a new type of ray that was capable of passing through the paper covering and exciting the phosphorescent materials. He discovered that this new ray could pass through numerous substances, casting shadows on solid objects. Röntgen also realized that the ray could pass through human tissues but not through bones and metal. One of his first experiments was a film of his wife’s hand where her bones and ring are visible.

This discovery was a scientific breakthrough and was rightly received with enthusiastic interest by both scientists and everyone else! Other scientists could easily duplicate his experiment since the cathode tube was very well known then. Several scientists even dropped other lines of research to pursue these newly discovered rays with the discovery receiving heavy media coverage.

Several medical personnel began using radiographs in Europe and the U.S. just a month after the discovery. Six months later, radiographs also found their way to the battlefield to help wounded soldiers.

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