X Rays

November 23, 2012 11:20 am

X Rays
Imagine that you could see right through your own skin. You could see the bones inside your body. You could watch food go down your throat when you swallow it. Imagine looking inside someone’s suitcase to see what’s inside. Does that sound impossible? Not when you know about X rays!
WHAT ARE X RAYS?
X rays are very powerful light rays that your eyes can’t detect. These light rays can slip through objects that visible light bounces off. We use X rays as a powerful tool to detect and discover things our eyes can’t see.
HOW WERE X RAYS DISCOVERED?
X rays were discovered by accident. In 1895, a man named Wilhelm Roentgen was experimenting with electricity in vacuum tubes in a black cardboard box. He noticed that a special screen he had nearby glowed when electricity went through the tubes. He experimented more and determined that invisible light rays from the tubes caused the screen to glow. These rays went right through the cardboard box! He named the invisible light rays he had found X rays.
WHAT ARE X RAYS USED FOR?
Just a few years after X rays were discovered, doctors were already using them to find bullets inside people who had been shot. Doctors later began to use X rays to find out if people are sick or have broken bones. Dentists use X rays to check up on people’s teeth.
An X-ray device called a CAT scan rotates around a person and creates a 3-D picture of the person’s insides on a screen. This device gives doctors clear views inside any part of the person’s body.
Scientists who study matter and energy often use X rays in their research. X rays help them see what things are made of. Many chemical elements were discovered using X rays.
Industries use X rays to test products and materials for flaws such as cracks in an airplane wing. X rays are also used to tell whether gems and works of art are real or fake. Border guards use X rays to look inside cars and containers. The X rays can find goods that are being smuggled from one country to another. Airports use low energy X rays to see inside luggage and check for dangerous items.
DOCTORS’ X RAYS
When a doctor takes an X ray of you, the X-ray machine shoots X rays at you. Most of the rays go through you and into a special film, which catches them. Some of the X rays that hit your bones, however, don’t make it through you. Bones absorb X rays more than other parts of your body. Because X rays absorbed by your bones never make it to the film, lighter areas appear on the film where your bones are! These lighter areas provide a picture of the bones.
X rays can be harmful. Doctors use X rays to kill cells that are harmful to people, such as cancer tumors. Because too many X rays can be harmful, doctors warn that X rays should be used only when necessary.
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