Ray

Ray

[rey]
Ray or Wray, John, 1627-1705, English naturalist. He was extremely influential in laying the foundations of systematic biology. With his pupil Francis Willughby, he planned a complete classification of the vegetable and animal kingdoms and toured Europe collecting specimens. On Willughby's death, Ray organized and published the material left by his friend. Ray's own work—the botanical part of the project—includes the important Historia plantarum (3 vol., 1686-1704). Ray was the first to name and make the distinction between monocotyledons and dicotyledons. He was also the first to define and explain the term species in the modern sense of the word. Ray studied and wrote on quadrupeds, reptiles, and birds. The Ray Society for the publication of scientific works was founded in his honor in 1844.

See his Correspondence, ed. by E. Lankester (1848) and Further Correspondence, ed. by R. W. Gunther (1928); C. E. Raven, John Ray, Naturalist (2d ed. 1951).

Ray, Man, 1890-1976, American photographer, painter, and sculptor, b. Philadelphia. Along with Marcel Duchamp, Ray was a founder of the Dada movement in New York and Paris. He is celebrated for his later surrealist paintings and photography. Among his inventions is the rayograph, a photograph obtained by the direct application of objects of varying opacity to a light-sensitive plate. His works include the painting The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself with Her Shadows and the enigmatic sculpture Gift (both: Mus. of Modern Art, New York City). Ray also made several surrealist films, of which L'Étoile de Mer (1928) is the best known.

See his autobiography (1963). See also studies by N. Baldwin (1988), M. Foresta (1988), and R. Penrose (1989); Man Ray Fautographe (CD-ROM, 1996).

Ray, Satyajit, 1921-92, Indian film director, b. Calcutta (now Kolkata). His subtle, austere, and delicately lyrical films made him one of the outstanding filmmakers of the 20th cent.; he was the first Indian director to win international acclaim. During his formative years he was profoundly influenced by the humanism of Rabindranath Tagore, at whose university he studied. Ray began his career as a layout artist, art director, and illustrator. His early reputation was built on a trilogy of luminous neorealist films that portrayed the everyday life of a Bengali family and the childhood, youth, and manhood of a character called Apu. Pather Panchali (1955), his first film, was an immediate success and a Grand Prix winner at the Cannes Festival. It was followed by Aparajito (1956) and The World of Apu (1959). The films of this "Apu Trilogy" remain his best known works.

Ray's recurrent themes—the life of Bengal's various social classes, the conflict of old and new values, and the effects of India's rapidly changing economic and political conditions—are evident throughout his oeuvre. His more than 30 films include The Music Room (1958), Charulata (1964), The Target (1972), Distant Thunder (1973), The Home and the World (1984), The Visitor (1991), and The Stranger (1992). Over the years, he received many prizes, including an Academy Award for lifetime achievement (1992). Ray was also a screenwriter, wrote the musical scores for many of his films, and was intimately involved with all the elements of their production.

Bibliography

See his essays, Our Films, Their Films (1995); M. Seton, Portrait of a Director: Satyajit Ray (1971); S. Benegal, Benegal on Ray (1988); B. Nyce, Satyajit Ray: A Study of His Films (1988); A. Robinson, Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye (1989); B. Sarkar, The World of Satyajit Ray (1992); and N. Ghosh, Satyajit Ray at 70 (1993).

ray, extremely flat-bodied cartilaginous marine fish, related to the shark. The pectoral fins of most rays are developed into broad, flat, winglike appendages, attached all along the sides of the head; the animal swims by rippling movements of these wings. Most rays have slender whiplike tails. The eyes and spiracles are located on top of the head, the mouth and the gill slits on the underside. Many rays are bottom dwellers, lying like rugs on the seafloor; others inhabit the upper waters. Bottom-dwelling rays breathe by taking in water through the spiracles, rather than through the mouth as most fishes do, and passing it out through the gills. Rays feed on a variety of smaller animals; the heavy, rounded teeth of most species are adapted to crushing the shells of snails and clams.

Types of Rays

The rays, which form the order Batoidea, are divided into seven families. The largest are the mantas, also called devil rays and devilfish (family Mobulidae). These are top-swimming forms which may weigh up to 3,000 lb (1360 kg), with a width of up to 22 ft (7 m). Unlike most rays, mantas are filter-feeders; the manta uses a pair of horns at the front of the head to drive small prey into its mouth; there the prey is caught in a strainer and swallowed, the water passing out through the manta's gills. Electric rays, or torpedos (family Torpedinidae), have electric organs in their wings that generate electric current, used to immobilize prey and for defense. The current is strong enough to stun humans, and it is said that the ancient Greeks used these fish for shock therapy. Skates (family Rajidae), which are sometimes caught for food, are bottom dwellers; some species have electric organs in their tails. The stingrays, or whiprays (family Dasyatidae), have rows of spines along their tails, which are generally much longer than their bodies. The stingray inflicts wounds by lashing with its tail; the spines contain a poison that causes pain and can be fatal to humans. Most of the eagle rays and bat rays (family Mylobatidae) bear a single poison spine on the tail. The guitarfishes (family Rhinobatidae) are sharklike in form, having well-developed tails used for swimming and smaller pectoral fins than most rays; however, the fins are attached, as in all rays, above the gills, giving these fishes a broad-headed appearance. Sawfishes (family Pristidae) are similar in body form, but have long, flat snouts with a row of toothlike projections on either side. Some species reach a total length of 20 ft (6 m), with snouts 6 ft (1.8 m) long and 1 ft (30 cm) wide. They use these ponderous weapons to slash and impale small fishes and to probe in the mud for burrowing animals. Sawfishes, which are endangered globally, should not be confused with saw sharks, which are true sharks.

Reproduction and Distribution

Fertilization is internal in rays. Most bear live young, but the skates lay flattened, rectangular eggs, enclosed in leathery shells, with tendrils at the corners for anchorage. Empty egg cases of this type are found on beaches and are known as mermaids' purses. Most ray families have a more or less cosmopolitan distribution in tropical and subtropical marine waters; some include temperate or cold-water species. Some rays can live in brackish bays and estuaries, and the sawfish enters freshwater rivers and lakes.

Classification

Rays are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Chondrichthyes, subclass Elasmobranchii, order Batoidea.

ray, in physics, term denoting the straight line along which light or other form of radiation is propagated from its source. It generally refers to the line of propagation of waves but is also applied to streams of particles such as the electrons emitted from a cathode or particles emitted by substances exhibiting radioactivity. See cosmic rays; X ray.
Nagin, Ray (Clarence Ray Nagin, Jr.), 1956-, African-American politician, b. New Orleans. A Louisiana cable-television executive before entering politics, Nagin won the 2002 mayoral election handily as a reform candidate, despite never before holding elective office. He came to wide public attention in 2005 when New Orleans was hit by catastrophic flooding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of buildings were destroyed and hundreds died, and the mayor was widely criticized for the city's lack of a workable evacuation plan and his delay in ordering the city's mandatory evacuation. At the same time, he vociferously criticized state and federal officials for their slow and ineffective reaction to the crisis. Vowing to resurrect the city, Nagin was narrowly reelected in 2006.
Palmer, Ray, 1808-87, American Congregational clergyman and hymn writer, b. Little Compton, R.I., grad. Yale, 1830. He held pastorates in Bath, Maine (1835-50), and Albany, N.Y. (1850-66). He is remembered chiefly for the hymn "My Faith Looks up to Thee" (1830), a worldwide favorite, for which Lowell Mason wrote the tune Olivet.
Charles, Ray (Ray Charles Robinson), 1930-2004, African-American musician and composer, b. Albany, Ga. Blinded at age seven, he was raised in Florida and at 16 began singing in a local hillbilly group. Two years later he moved to Seattle, where he formed his own trio. Charles rose to fame in the 1950s singing rhythm-and-blues tunes in an exuberant yet sophisticated style to the accompaniment of his piano and band. He had his first national recorded hit, "I've Got a Woman," in 1955. Combining sacred styles with the secular and rooted in gospel music and the blues, his work infused soul into a variety of genres, and it influenced, and was influenced by, jazz and rock music. Among Charles's greatest hits were "Whad'd I Say" (1959), "Georgia on My Mind" (1960), and his soulful rendition of "America the Beautiful" (1984). An outstanding live performer, he also recorded more than 60 albums and won 12 Grammy awards. He was inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

See his autobiography (1978); biographies by D. Ritz (1978) and M. Lydon (1999).

Bradbury, Ray, 1920-, American writer, b. Waukegan, Ill. A popular and very prolific writer of science fiction, Bradbury skillfully combines social and technological criticism with delightful fantasy. His best-known work is probably The Martian Chronicles (1950), the tale of the ruin of Martian civilization by greedy and corrupt earthlings, which was made into a film (1966) and a TV miniseries (1980). His short-story collections include The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), The Last Circus and the Executioner (1980), The Toynbee Convector (1988), Quicker than the Eye (1996), and Driving Blind (1997); among his novels are Fahrenheit 451 (1953, film 1966), Dandelion Wine (1957), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962, film 1983), The Halloween Tree (1972), and A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990). Bradbury has also written scripts for plays and films, a detective novel, children's stories, and poetry.

See biographies by W. L. Johnson (1980), D. Mogen (1986), and S. Weller (2005); studies by G. E. Slusser (1977), W. F. Touponce (1989 and 1998), J. Anderson (1990), and R. A. Reid (2000).

Kroc, Ray (Raymond Albert Kroc), 1902-84, American fast-food restauranteur and franchiser, b. Chicago. Kroc held several jobs before becoming (1937) the distributor for a blender that simultaneously prepared several milkshakes. Visiting a small but profitable San Bernadino, Calif., restaurant owned by brothers Mac and Dick McDonald, he was impressed by the fast assembly-line fashion preparation of burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes. Kroc acquired the business's franchising rights and in 1955 founded the McDonald's Corp. Six years later he bought out the brothers. Using quality, service, cleanliness, and value as a commercial mantra, and maintaining strict uniformity of product, McDonald's grew quickly, as franchises opened throughout the country and menu items were gradually added. Kroc served as president (1955-68), chairman of the board (1968-77), and then senior chairman until his death. By then, McDonald's had changed America's eating habits, with more than 7,500 restaurants in operation and annual sales topping $8 billion.

See his Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's (1977, repr. 1990).

X-radiation (composed of X-rays) is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 10 to 0.01 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz (30×1015Hz to 30×1018Hz) and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are longer than gamma rays but shorter than UV rays. In many languages, X-radiation is called Röntgen radiation after one of its first investigators, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.

X-rays are primarily used for diagnostic radiography and crystallography. As a result, the term "X-ray" is metonymically used to refer to a radiographic image produced using this method, in addition to the method itself. X-rays are a form of ionizing radiation and as such can be dangerous.

X-rays span 3 decades in wavelength, frequency and energy. From about 0.12 to 12 keV they are classified as soft x-rays, and from about 12 to 120 keV as hard X-rays, due to their penetrating abilities.

Unit of measure and exposure

The rem is the traditional unit of dose equivalent. This describes the energy delivered by gamma- or X-radiation (indirectly ionizing radiation) for humans. The SI counterpart is the sievert (Sv). One sievert is equal to 100 rem. Because the rem is a relatively large unit, typical equivalent dose is measured in millirem (mrem) - 1/1000 rem, or in microsievert (μSv) - 1/1000000 Sv -, whereby 1 mrem equals 10 μSv.

The average person living in the United States is exposed to approximately 150 mrem annually from background sources alone.

Reported dosage due to dental X-rays seems to vary significantly. Depending on the source, a typical dental X-ray of a human results in an exposure of perhaps, 3, 40, 300, or as many as 900 mrems (30 to 9,000 μSv).

Medical physics

When medical X-rays are being produced, a thin metallic sheet is placed between the emitter and the target, effectively filtering out the lower energy (soft) X-rays. This is often placed close to the window of the X-ray tube. The resultant X-ray is said to be hard. Soft X-rays overlap the range of extreme ultraviolet. The frequency of hard X-rays is higher than that of soft X-rays, and the wavelength is shorter. Hard X-rays overlap with the range of "long"-wavelength (lower energy) gamma rays, however the distinction between the two terms in medicine depends on the source of the radiation, not its wavelength; X-ray photons are generated by energetic electron processes, gamma rays by transitions within atomic nuclei.

X-ray K-series spectral line wavelengths (nm) for some common target materials.
Target Kβ₁ Kβ₂ Kα₁ Kα₂
Fe 0.17566 0.17442 0.193604 0.193998
Co
Ni 0.15001 0.14886 0.165791 0.166175
Cu 0.139222 0.138109 0.154056 0.154439
Zr 0.070173 0.068993 0.078593 0.079015
Mo 0.063229 0.062099 0.070930 0.071359
W
Re

The basic production of X-rays is by accelerating electrons in order to collide with a metal target. (In medical applications, this is usually tungsten or a more crack-resistant alloy of rhenium (5%) and tungsten (95%), but sometimes molybdenum for more specialized applications, such as when soft X-rays are needed as in mammography. In crystallography, a copper target is most common, with cobalt often being used when fluorescence from iron content in the sample might otherwise present a problem. )

In the X-ray tube the electrons suddenly decelerate upon colliding with the metal target and if the electron has enough energy it can knock out an electron from the inner shell of the metal atom and as a result electrons from higher energy levels then fill up the vacancy and X-ray photons are emitted. This process is extremely inefficient (~0.1%) and thus to produce reasonable flux of X-rays plenty of energy has to be wasted into heat which has to be removed.

The spectral lines generated depends on the target (anode) element used and thus are called characteristic lines. Usually these are transitions from upper shells into K shell (called K lines), into L shell (called L lines) and so on. There is also a continuum Bremsstrahlung radiation given off by the electrons as they are scattered by the strong electric field near the high-Z (proton number) nuclei. The shortest continuum wavelength is determined by the energy of the incident electron, hence by the accelerating voltage on the X-ray tube.

Radiographs obtained using X-rays can be used to identify a wide spectrum of pathologies. Due to their short wavelength, in medical applications, X-rays act more like a particle than a wave. This is in contrast to their application in crystallography, where their wave-like nature is most important.

To generate an image of the cardiovascular system, including the arteries and veins (angiography) an initial image is taken of the anatomical region of interest. A second image is then taken of the same region after iodinated contrast material has been injected into the blood vessels within this area. These two images are then digitally altered, leaving an image of only the iodinated contrast outlining the blood vessels. The doctor (Radiologist) or surgeon then compares the image obtained to normal anatomical images to determine if there is any damage or blockage of the vessel.

To take an X-ray of the bones, short X-ray pulses are shot through a body with radiographic film behind. The bones absorb the most photons by the photoelectric process, because they are more electron-dense. The X-rays that do not get absorbed turn the photographic film from white to black, leaving a white shadow of bones on the film.

For most modern non-medical applications, X-ray production is achieved by synchrotrons (see synchrotron light).

Detectors

Photographic plate

The detection of X-rays is based on various methods. The most commonly known methods are a photographic plate, X-ray film in a cassette, and rare earth screens. Regardless of what is "catching" the image, they are all categorized as "Image Receptors" (IR).

Before computers and before digital imaging, a photographic plate was used to produce radiographic images. The images were produced right on the glass plates. Film replaced these plates and was used in hospitals to produce images. Now computed & digital radiography has started to replace film in medicine, though film technology is still used in industrial radiography processes (e.g. to inspect welded seams). Photographic plates are a thing of history, and their replacement (intensifying screens) is now becoming part of that same history. Silver (necessary to the radiographic & photographic industry) is a non-renewable resource, that has now been replaced by digital (DR) and computed (CR) technology. Where film required wet processing facilities on site, these new technologies do not. Archiving of these new technologies is also space saving for facilities.

Regardless of whether the image receptor technology is plate, film or CR/DR Since photographic plates were sensitive to X-rays, they provide a convenient and easy means of recording the image, but they required a lot of exposure (to the patient). This is where intensifying screens came into the picture. The use of such, allowed for a lower dose to the patient – because the screens took the X-ray information and "intensified" it so that it could be recorded on the film lying next to the intensifying screen.

The part of the patient to be X-rayed is placed between the X-ray source and the image receptor to produce what is a shadow of all the internal structure of that particular part of the body being X-rayed. X-rays are somewhat blocked ("attenuated") by dense tissues such as bone, and pass more easily through soft tissues. Those areas where the X-rays strike the image receptor will produce photographic density (ie. it will turn black when developed). So where the X-rays pass through "soft" parts of the body such as organs, muscle, and skin, the plate or film turns black.

Contrast compounds containing barium or iodine, which are radiopaque, can be ingested in the gastrointestinal tract (barium) or injected in the artery or veins to highlight these vessels. The contrast compounds have high atomic numbered elements in them that (like bone) essentially block the X-rays and hence the once hollow organ or vessel can be more readily seen. In the pursuit of a non-toxic contrast material, many types of high atomic number elements were experimented with. For example, the first time the forefathers used contrast it was chalk, and was used on a cadaver's vessels. Unfortunately, some elements chosen proved to be harmful – for example, many years ago thorium was used as a contrast medium (Thorotrast) – which turned out to be toxic in some cases (causing injury and occasionally death from the effects of thorium poisoning). Contrast material used today has come a long way, and while there is no way to determine who may have a sensitivity to the contrast – the occasions of having an "allergic-type reaction" are very low. (The risk is compared to that associated with penicillin ... that is, just as many people are allergic to penicillin as they are to radiographic contrast material.)

Photostimulable phosphors (PSPs)

An increasingly common method of detecting X-rays is the use of Photostimulable Luminescence (PSL), pioneered by Fuji in the 1980s. In modern hospitals a PSP plate is used in place of the photographic plate. After the plate is X-rayed, excited electrons in the phosphor material remain 'trapped' in 'colour centres' in the crystal lattice until stimulated by a laser beam passed over the plate surface. The light given off during laser stimulation is collected by a photomultiplier tube and the resulting signal is converted into a digital image by computer technology, which gives this process its common name, computed radiography (also referred to as digital radiography). The PSP plate can be used over and over again, and existing X-ray equipment requires no modification to use them.

Geiger counter

Initially, most common detection methods were based on the ionization of gases, as in the Geiger-Müller counter: a sealed volume, usually a cylinder, with a mica, polymer or thin metal window contains a gas, and a wire, and a high voltage is applied between the cylinder (cathode) and the wire (anode). When an X-ray photon enters the cylinder, it ionizes the gas and forms ions and electrons. Electrons accelerate toward the anode, in the process causing further ionization along their trajectory. This process, known as an avalanche, is detected as a sudden current, called a "count" or "event".

Ultimately, the electrons form a virtual cathode around the anode wire, drastically reducing the electric field in the outer portions of the tube. This halts the collisional ionizations and limits further growth of avalanches. As a result, all "counts" on a Geiger counter are the same size and it can give no indication as to the particle energy of the radiation, unlike the proportional counter. The intensity of the radiation is measurable by the Geiger counter as the counting-rate of the system.

In order to gain energy spectrum information, a diffracting crystal may be used to first separate the different photons. The method is called wavelength dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (WDX or WDS). Position-sensitive detectors are often used in conjunction with dispersive elements. Other detection equipment that is inherently energy-resolving may be used, such as the aforementioned proportional counters. In either case, use of suitable pulse-processing (MCA) equipment allows digital spectra to be created for later analysis.

For many applications, counters are not sealed but are constantly fed with purified gas, thus reducing problems of contamination or gas aging. These are called "flow counters".

Scintillators

Some materials such as sodium iodide (NaI) can "convert" an X-ray photon to a visible photon; an electronic detector can be built by adding a photomultiplier. These detectors are called "scintillators", filmscreens or "scintillation counters". The main advantage of using these is that an adequate image can be obtained while subjecting the patient to a much lower dose of X-rays.

Image intensification

X-rays are also used in "real-time" procedures such as angiography or contrast studies of the hollow organs (e.g. barium enema of the small or large intestine) using fluoroscopy acquired using an X-ray image intensifier. Angioplasty, medical interventions of the arterial system, rely heavily on X-ray-sensitive contrast to identify potentially treatable lesions.

Direct semiconductor detectors

Since the 1970s, new semiconductor detectors have been developed (silicon or germanium doped with lithium, Si(Li) or Ge(Li)). X-ray photons are converted to electron-hole pairs in the semiconductor and are collected to detect the X-rays. When the temperature is low enough (the detector is cooled by Peltier effect or even cooler liquid nitrogen), it is possible to directly determine the X-ray energy spectrum; this method is called energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX or EDS); it is often used in small X-ray fluorescence spectrometers. These detectors are sometimes called "solid state detectors". Cadmium telluride (CdTe) and its alloy with zinc, cadmium zinc telluride detectors have an increased sensitivity, which allows lower doses of X-rays to be used.

Practical application in medical imaging didn't start taking place until the 1990s. Currently amorphous selenium is used in commercial large area flat panel X-ray detectors for mammography and chest radiography. Current research and development is focused around pixel detectors, such as CERN's energy resolving Medipix detector.

Note: A standard semiconductor diode, such as a 1N4007, will produce a small amount of current when placed in an X-ray beam. A test device once used by Medical Imaging Service personnel was a small project box that contained several diodes of this type in series, which could be connected to an oscilloscope as a quick diagnostic.

Silicon drift detectors (SDDs), produced by conventional semiconductor fabrication, now provide a cost-effective and high resolving power radiation measurement. Unlike conventional X-ray detectors, such as Si(Li)s, they do not need to be cooled with liquid nitrogen.

Scintillator plus semiconductor detectors (indirect detection)

With the advent of large semiconductor array detectors it has become possible to design detector systems using a scintillator screen to convert from X-rays to visible light which is then converted to electrical signals in an array detector. Indirect Flat Panel Detectors (FPDs) are in widespread use today in medical, dental, veterinary and industrial applications. A common form of these detectors is based on amorphous silicon TFT/photodiode arrays. The array technology is a variant on the amorphous silicon TFT arrays used in many flat panel displays, like the ones in computer laptops. The array consists of a sheet of glass covered with a thin layer of silicon that is in an amorphous or disordered state. At a microscopic scale, the silicon has been imprinted with millions of transistors arranged in a highly ordered array, like the grid on a sheet of graph paper. Each of these thin film transistors (TFTs) are attached to a light-absorbing photodiode making up an individual pixel (picture element). Photons striking the photodiode are converted into two carriers of electrical charge, called electron-hole pairs. Since the number of charge carriers produced will vary with the intensity of incoming light photons, an electrical pattern is created that can be swiftly converted to a voltage and then a digital signal, which is interpreted by a computer to produce a digital image. Although silicon has outstanding electronic properties, it is not a particularly good absorber of X-ray photons. For this reason, X-rays first impinge upon scintillators made from eg. gadolinium oxysulfide or caesium iodide. The scintillator absorbs the X-rays and converts them into visible light photons that then pass onto the photodiode array.

Visibility to the human eye

While generally considered invisible to the human eye, in special circumstances X-rays can be visible. Brandes, in an experiment a short time after Röntgen's landmark 1895 paper, reported after dark adaptation and placing his eye close to an X-ray tube, seeing a faint "blue-gray" glow which seemed to originate within the eye itself. Upon hearing this, Röntgen reviewed his record books and found he too had seen the effect. When placing an X-ray tube on the opposite side of a wooden door Röntgen had noted the same blue glow, seeming to emanate from the eye itself, but thought his observations to be spurious because he only saw the effect when he used one type of tube. Later he realized that the tube which had created the effect was the only one powerful enough to make the glow plainly visible and the experiment was thereafter readily repeatable. The knowledge that X-rays are actually faintly visible to the dark-adapted naked eye has largely been forgotten today; this is probably due to the desire not to repeat what would now be seen as a recklessly dangerous and potentially harmful experiment with ionizing radiation. It is not known what exact mechanism in the eye produces the visibility: it could be due to conventional detection (excitation of rhodopsin molecules in the retina), direct excitation of retinal nerve cells, or secondary detection via, for instance, X-ray induction of phosphorescence in the eyeball with conventional retinal detection of the secondarily produced visible light.

Though X-rays are invisible it is possible to see the ionization of the air molecules if the intensity of the X-ray beam is high enough. The beamline from the wiggler at the ID11 at ESRF is one example of such high intensity

Medical uses

Since Röntgen's discovery that X-rays can identify bony structures, X-rays have been developed for their use in medical imaging. Radiology is a specialized field of medicine. Radiographers employ radiography and other techniques for diagnostic imaging. This is probably the most common use of X-ray technology.

X-rays are especially useful in the detection of pathology of the skeletal system, but are also useful for detecting some disease processes in soft tissue. Some notable examples are the very common chest X-ray, which can be used to identify lung diseases such as pneumonia, lung cancer or pulmonary edema, and the abdominal X-ray, which can detect ileus (blockage of the intestine), free air (from visceral perforations) and free fluid (in ascites). In some cases, the use of X-rays is debatable, such as gallstones (which are rarely radiopaque) or kidney stones (which are often visible, but not always). Also, traditional plain X-rays pose very little use in the imaging of soft tissues such as the brain or muscle. Imaging alternatives for soft tissues are computed axial tomography (CAT or CT scanning), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or ultrasound. Since 2005, X-rays are listed as a carcinogen by the U.S. government.

Radiotherapy, a curative medical intervention, now used almost exclusively for cancer, employs higher energies of radiation.

The efficiency of X-ray tubes is less than 2%. Most of the energy is used to heat up the anode.

Other uses

Other notable uses of X-rays include

History

Among the important early researchers in X-rays were Professor Ivan Pulyui, Sir William Crookes, Johann Wilhelm Hittorf, Eugen Goldstein, Heinrich Hertz, Philipp Lenard, Hermann von Helmholtz, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Charles Glover Barkla, Max von Laue, and Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.

Wilhelm Röntgen

On November 8, 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a German physics professor, began observing and further documenting X-rays while experimenting with Lenard and Crookes tubes. Röntgen, on December 28, 1895, wrote a preliminary report "On a new kind of ray: A preliminary communication". He submitted it to the Würzburg's Physical-Medical Society journal. This was the first formal and public recognition of the categorization of X-rays. Röntgen referred to the radiation as "X", to indicate that it was an unknown type of radiation. The name stuck, although (over Röntgen's great objections), many of his colleagues suggested calling them Röntgen rays. They are still referred to as such in many languages, including German. Röntgen received the first Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery.

There are conflicting accounts of his discovery because Röntgen had his lab notes burned after his death, but this is a likely reconstruction by his biographers. Röntgen was investigating cathode rays with a fluorescent screen painted with barium platinocyanide and a Crookes tube which he had wrapped in black cardboard so the visible light from the tube wouldn't interfere. He noticed a faint green glow from the screen, about 1 meter away. The invisible rays coming from the tube to make the screen glow were passing through the cardboard. He found they could also pass through books and papers on his desk. Röntgen threw himself into investigating these unknown rays systematically. Two months after his initial discovery, he published his paper.

Röntgen discovered its medical use when he saw a picture of his wife's hand on a photographic plate formed due to X-rays. His wife's hand's photograph was the first ever photograph of a human body part using X-rays.

Johann Hittorf

Physicist Johann Hittorf (1824 – 1914) observed tubes with energy rays extending from a negative electrode. These rays produced a fluorescence when they hit the glass walls of the tubes. In 1876 the effect was named "cathode rays" by Eugen Goldstein, and today are known to be streams of electrons. Later, English physicist William Crookes investigated the effects of electric currents in gases at low pressure, and constructed what is called the Crookes tube. It is a glass cylinder mostly (but not completely) evacuated, containing electrodes for discharges of a high voltage electric current. He found, when he placed unexposed photographic plates near the tube, that some of them were flawed by shadows, though he did not investigate this effect. Crookes also noted that his cathode rays caused the glass walls of his tube to glow a dull blue colour. Crookes failed to realise that it wasn't actually the cathode rays that caused the blue glow, but the low-level X-rays produced when the cathode rays struck the glass.

Ivan Pulyui

In 1877 Ukranian-born Pulyui, a lecturer in experimental physics at the University of Vienna, constructed various designs of vacuum discharge tube to investigate their properties. He continued his investigations when appointed professor at the Prague Polytechnic and in 1886 he found that that sealed photographic plates became dark when exposed to the emanations from the tubes. Early in 1896, just a few weeks after Röntgen published his first X-ray photograph, Pulyui published high-quality x-ray images in journals in Paris and London. Although Pulyui had studied with Röntgen at the University of Strasbourg in the years 1873-75, his biographer Gaida (1997) asserts that his subsequent research was conducted independently.

The first medical X-ray made in the United States was obtained using a discharge tube of Pulyui's design. In January 1896, on reading of Röntgen's discovery, Frank Austin of Dartmouth College tested all of the discharge tubes in the physics laboratory and found that only the Pulyui tube produced X-rays. This was a result of Pulyui's inclusion of an oblique "target" of mica, used for holding samples of fluorescent material, within the tube. On 3 February 1896 Gilman Frost, professor of medicine at the college, and his brother Edwin Frost, professor of physics, exposed the wrist of Eddie McCarthy, whom Edwin had treated some weeks earlier for a fracture, to the x-rays and collected the resulting image of the broken bone on gelatin photographic plates obtained from Howard Langill, a local photographer also interested in Röntgen's work.

Nikola Tesla

In April 1887, Nikola Tesla began to investigate X-rays using high voltages and tubes of his own design, as well as Crookes tubes. From his technical publications, it is indicated that he invented and developed a special single-electrode X-ray tube , which differed from other X-ray tubes in having no target electrode. The principle behind Tesla's device is called the Bremsstrahlung process, in which a high-energy secondary X-ray emission is produced when charged particles (such as electrons) pass through matter. By 1892, Tesla performed several such experiments, but he did not categorize the emissions as what were later called X-rays. Tesla generalized the phenomenon as radiant energy of "invisible" kinds. Tesla stated the facts of his methods concerning various experiments in his 1897 X-ray lecture before the New York Academy of Sciences. Also in this lecture, Tesla stated the method of construction and safe operation of X-ray equipment. His X-ray experimentation by vacuum high field emissions also led him to alert the scientific community to the biological hazards associated with X-ray exposure.

Fernando Sanford

X-rays were first generated and detected by Fernando Sanford (1854-1948), the foundation Professor of Physics at Stanford University, in 1891. From 1886 to 1888 he had studied in the Hermann Helmholtz laboratory in Berlin, where he became familiar with the cathode rays generated in vacuum tubes when a voltage was applied across separate electrodes, as previously studied by Heinrich Hertz and Philipp Lenard. His letter of January 6, 1893 (describing his discovery as "electric photography") to The Physical Review was duly published and an article entitled Without Lens or Light, Photographs Taken With Plate and Object in Darkness appeared in the San Francisco Examiner.

Heinrich Hertz

In 1892, Heinrich Hertz began experimenting and demonstrated that cathode rays could penetrate very thin metal foil (such as aluminium). Philipp Lenard, a student of Heinrich Hertz, further researched this effect. He developed a version of the Crookes tube and studied the penetration by X-rays of various materials. Philipp Lenard, though, did not realize that he was producing X-rays. Hermann von Helmholtz formulated mathematical equations for X-rays. He postulated a dispersion theory before Röntgen made his discovery and announcement. It was formed on the basis of the electromagnetic theory of light (Wiedmann's Annalen, Vol. XLVIII). However, he did not work with actual X-rays.

Thomas Edison

In 1895, Thomas Edison investigated materials' ability to fluoresce when exposed to X-rays, and found that calcium tungstate was the most effective substance. Around March 1896, the fluoroscope he developed became the standard for medical X-ray examinations. Nevertheless, Edison dropped X-ray research around 1903 after the death of Clarence Madison Dally, one of his glassblowers. Dally had a habit of testing X-ray tubes on his hands, and acquired a cancer in them so tenacious that both arms were amputated in a futile attempt to save his life. "At the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, an assassin shot President William McKinley twice at close range with a .32 caliber revolver." The first bullet was removed but the second remained lodged somewhere in his stomach. McKinley survived for some time and requested that Thomas Edison "rush an X-ray machine to Buffalo to find the stray bullet. It arrived but wasn't used . . . McKinley died of septic shock due to bacterial infection.

The 20th century and beyond

Before the 20th century until the 1920s, X-rays were generated in cold cathode tubes, called Crookes tubes. These tubes had to contain a small quantity of gas (invariably air) as a current will not flow in such a tube if they are fully evacuated. One of the problems with early X-ray tubes is that the generated X-rays caused the glass to absorb the gas and consequently the efficiency quickly falls off. Larger and more frequently used tubes were provided with devices for restoring the air, known as 'softeners'. This often took the form of small side tube which contained a small piece of mica – a substance that traps comparatively large quantities of air within its structure. A small electrical heater heats the mica and causes it to release a small amount of air restoring the tube's efficiency. However the mica itself has a limited life and the restore process was consequently difficult to control.

In 1904, John Ambrose Fleming invented the thermionic diode valve (vacuum tube). This used a heated cathode which permitted current to flow in a vacuum. This idea was quickly applied x-ray tubes, and heated cathode x-ray tubes, called Coolidge tubes, replaced the troublesome cold cathode tubes by about 1920.

Two years later, physicist Charles Barkla discovered that X-rays could be scattered by gases, and that each element had a characteristic X-ray. He won the 1917 Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. Max von Laue, Paul Knipping and Walter Friedrich observed for the first time the diffraction of X-rays by crystals in 1912. This discovery, along with the early works of Paul Peter Ewald, William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg gave birth to the field of X-ray crystallography. The Coolidge tube was invented the following year by William D. Coolidge which permitted continuous production of X-rays; this type of tube is still in use today.

The use of X-rays for medical purposes (to develop into the field of radiation therapy) was pioneered by Major John Hall-Edwards in Birmingham, England. In 1908, he had to have his left arm amputated owing to the spread of X-ray dermatitis

The X-ray microscope was invented in the 1950s.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, launched on July 23, 1999, has been allowing the exploration of the very violent processes in the universe which produce X-rays. Unlike visible light, which is a relatively stable view of the universe, the X-ray universe is unstable, it features stars being torn apart by black holes, galactic collisions, and novas, neutron stars that build up layers of plasma that then explode into space.

An X-ray laser device was proposed as part of the Reagan administration's Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s, but the first and only test of the device (a sort of laser "blaster", or death ray, powered by a thermonuclear explosion) gave inconclusive results. For technical and political reasons, the overall project (including the X-ray laser) was de-funded (though was later revived by the second Bush administration as National Missile Defense using different technologies).

See also

References

  • NASA Goddard Space Flight centre introduction to X-rays.

External links

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