Friday, April 28, 2017

X-Ray #atozchallenge


“X-Ray” is used for the letter X in the NATO spelling alphabet, which I used as the theme for my first-ever A to Z Challenge back in 2012. I remember getting bogged down in the details when I tried talking about Röntgen and his discovery of the x-ray, until finally I gave up and talked about X-Ray Specs and the other wonderful toys you could buy from tiny ads in the backs of comic books.

Anyway, the x-ray was discovered by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. He was doing experiments with vacuum tubes, and noticed that a treated piece of cardboard was starting to glow, and that, when he held his hand up in front of it, he could see the bones and everything. He thought, hey, this might be useful someday…

Anyway, x-rays can be found on the electromagnetic spectrum above ultraviolet light and below gamma rays. Their wavelengths are between 10 nanometers and 10 petameters, with a frequency between 300 petahertz and 30 exahertz.

X-rays are especially useful in medicine and dentistry, as we all know, and while they pose a slight health risk, it’s actually lower than the risks posed by naturally-occurring radiation, if this page is to be believed. It’s a case where the benefits from the x-ray outweigh the risks from it. I get my teeth x-rayed about once a year, and it allows my dentist to see if there are any cavities below the gum line and to look for cancers they aren’t able to see on visual inspection. When I was in the hospital after my stroke, I caught pneumonia; they x-rayed my chest daily for about a week (usually at 3 IN THE MORNING) to see if I was getting any better.

They also use x-rays in airport security, to examine the contents of carry-on luggage. They tested the TSA inspectors on their ability to see guns and explosives hidden in carry-ons, and the results were, shall we say, less than satisfactory. Back when he was working, my father-in-law learned to use an x-ray to examine steel tanks for possible weak spots. He got really good at it; he could show the TSA folks a thing or two.

So much for x-rays. What have been your x-ray experiences?

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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