Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (born March 27, 1845 in Lennep , today a district of Remscheid , † February 10, 1923 in Munich ) was a German physicist . He discovered on November 8, 1895 Physics Institute of the University of Würzburg , the "X-rays" (named after his X-rays ). For this he received in 1901 for the award of the first Nobel Prizes the first Nobel Prize in Physics . His discovery revolutionized medical diagnostics, among other thingsand led to other important findings of the 20th century, e.g. B. the discovery and research of radioactivity .
Childhood and studies
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born on March 27, 1845 in Lennep , which today belongs to Remscheid . He was the only child of the upper-class cloth manufacturer or cloth merchant Friedrich Conrad Röntgen and his Amsterdam-born wife Charlotte Constanze, née Frowein. For economic reasons, the family moved to Apeldoorn in the Netherlands in 1848 . Another reason for the move was probably that the mother of the future Nobel Prize winner was Dutch.
A résumé written by Röntgen in 1869 shows that he attended primary and secondary schools in Apeldoorn until 1861. Until 1862 he attended the institute of Martinus Herman van Doorn "Kostschule", a private elementary school. In December 1862 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen moved to Utrecht and attended a smaller private school there in 1863, which accepted boys between the ages of 14 and 18 in order to prepare them for a technical profession. There he mostly had good grades, but his hard work was considered too moderate in the certificates. For disciplinary reasons, because he was mistaken for the author of a caricature of his class teacher, he was expelled from school without a degree.
Although he subsequently made up his language skills, he did not pass the "examen admissionis" admission test for a university, which is possible in the Netherlands, but in 1865 attended courses in biology (botany, zoology), mathematics, physics and chemistry at the University of Utrecht as a guest student .
Röntgen, who linked his relationship with the engineer of the first steamboat on the Rhine with his love of mechanical skills and constructions, began to study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich) as a regular student on November 23, 1865 . This was possible because at the Polytechnic there, an entrance examination was decisive and not proof of a degree. There he received his diploma as a mechanical engineer on August 6, 1868 . In the following period he completed a postgraduate course in physics with August Kundt, who was six years his senior , and became his assistant. In June 1869 he received his doctorate in physics from the University of Zurich. phil. PhD , the title of his thesis is Studies on Gases .
Scientific career and life
Then in 1870 he accompanied August Kundt , on whose advice Röntgen had decided to study physics, as an assistant to Würzburg at the "Physikalische Kabinett" in the building of the Old University in Domerschulstrasse. In Würzburg he published his first publication as a scientist in the Annalen der Physik und Chemie . In July 1870 he joined the Physical-Medical Society in Würzburg. On January 19, 1872, he married Anna Bertha Ludwig (1839–1919), the daughter of an innkeeper from Zurich, in Apeldoorn.
On April 1, 1872 he moved together with Kundt to the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität Strasbourg . Röntgen completed his habilitation in Strasbourg in 1874 and first settled there on March 13, 1874 as a private lecturer. He had previously been refused a habilitation from the University of Würzburg because of his lack of a high school diploma. From April 1, 1875 he worked as an associate professor for physics and mathematics at the Agricultural Academy Hohenheim near Stuttgart. At the request of his former academic teacher and sponsor Kundt, Roentgen received a position as associate professor for physics in Strasbourg from October 1, 1876 .
When he was appointed to a full professorship in Giessen on April 1, 1879 , Röntgen received a fixed salary for the first time in his scientific career. In 1887, the Röntgen family took six-year-old Josephine Berta (1881–1972), the daughter of Anna Röntgen's brother Hans Ludwig, who was born in Zurich on December 21, 1881, into their household. They later adopted the child who, after his marriage in Munich on March 6, 1909, was named Josephine Berta Donges-Röntgen.
On August 31, 1888, Prince Regent Luitpold appointed Röntgen to succeed Friedrich Kohlrausch in Würzburg. On October 1, 1888, Röntgen took up this position as a full professor at the University of Würzburg.
Röntgen had refused calls to Jena and Utrecht. In 1893 and 1894 he was elected rector of the university in Würzburg. He also turned down a call to the University of Freiburg before his famous discovery in 1895, as did an appointment four years later to succeed Gustav Heinrich Wiedemann in Leipzig.
In Würzburg, on November 8th, 1895, Röntgen achieved his greatest scientific achievement: the discovery of what he called " X-rays ", which in German were called " X-rays ", while in English they are still called x-rays . On December 22nd, 1895, he was able to take a picture of his wife's hand in which the bones and the wedding ring are clearly visible.
In a lecture to Kaiser Wilhelm II on January 12, 1896, Röntgen presented his discovery publicly and on January 23, at a meeting of the Würzburg Physico-Medical Society, he gave a lecture to enthusiastic listeners from all circles of science and society in the fully occupied lecture hall of the Physics Institute. Following the lecture, the anatomist Albert Kölliker suggested renaming the "X-rays" to "Röntgen rays" (or "X-ray rays"), which was immediately accepted by the assembly chaired by Karl Bernhard Lehmann .
From April 1, 1900, Röntgen worked at the University of Munich as a full professor of physics. There he became head of the physical institute of the university town and curator of the state's physical-metronomic institute. Among his academic students from his time in Munich is the later Berlin professor of physics Peter Pringsheim .
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was awarded the Barnard Medal in 1900 . In 1901 he was the first Nobel Prize laureate for physics "in recognition of the extraordinary merit that he had earned through the discovery of the rays named after him".
In September 1914, the privy councilor Röntgen was one of the signatories of the manifesto of the 93 intellectuals An die Kulturwelt! which he later regretted. He also donated the English Rumford Medal that had been awarded to him as support for German warfare.
In 1919, after a long and serious illness, Röntgen's wife died. In the same year he was made an honorary member of the German Physical Society . He retired from his work as a professor at the University of Munich on April 1, 1920 .
End of life
In 1923, Röntgen was a patient of the surgeon Ferdinand Sauerbruch in Munich , who removed a small benign lump on his face, which Röntgen assumed could be cancer (the Munich pathologist Borst later described the lump as harmless). Sauerbruch complained to Röntgen that his invention had led doctors to no longer examine their patients in detail, but to rely too much on the new procedure. Röntgen is said to have said to Sauerbruch: "Where there is a lot of X-ray light, there must be To be X-ray shadow ".
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen died of colon cancer in Munich on February 10, 1923 at the age of 77 . Because of his will, he is buried in the old cemetery in Gießen , where Röntgen's parents had already found their final resting place. Contrary to the usual spelling Conrad , his middle name can be read as Konrad in the inscription on the tombstone . The remainder of his fortune went to charitable institutions, including poor relief in Weilheim , where he owned a country house.
He also ordered in his will that all of his scientific records should be destroyed. His friends complied with this request, so that only a few documents from Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen exist.
Conrad Röntgen is described as an introverted person to whom few found a deeper access. Outstanding characteristics were his modesty and his sense of justice. When Röntgen was absorbed in his scientific work, he found it difficult to adjust to other people. This is how his wife probably found herself facing her silent husband, who did not even respond to questions. He worked out his scientific results with perseverance and care. He did not publish anything that was not secured on all sides. Even after his great discovery, his lectures remained objective. Even the first public demonstration of the newly discovered rays in January 1896 in Würzburg was marked by the simplicity and modesty of Röntgen.
Since the death of his father, a two-time millionaire, he donated the prize money of 50,000 crowns associated with the award of the Nobel Prize to the University of Würzburg . Röntgen also renounced patenting , which meant that his X-ray apparatus was spread more quickly. When asked, he told AEG that he was of the opinion that “his inventions and discoveries belong to the general public and should not be reserved for individual companies through patents, license agreements and the like”. Likewise, he refused the title of nobility offered to him .
Since his student days, Conrad Röntgen preferred to relax in the Alps and, since his time in Würzburg, also when hunting . From Würzburg he went hunting in the forest of Rimpar . He often spent his summer holidays in Pontresina in the Engadine . After moving to Munich in 1904, he bought a country house on the southern outskirts of Weilheim in Upper Bavaria , which was popularly known as the "Röntgen Villa". Roentgen liked to go there to relax, go hunting and invite other hunters and friends. In Munich he missed the spiritual stimulus he had received from his friends in Würzburg. These friends included Theodor Boveri and Margret Boveri, with whom he was in correspondence. Shortly before his death, he went hiking in the Swiss mountains.
Emil von Behring chose Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen to be the godfather of one of his sons.
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen published 60 scientific papers in his career.
He wrote his first scientific work when he was 20 years old. This was a chemistry revision course on a standard work by chemistry professor Jan Willem Gunning . In this work, Röntgen's ability to clearly organize diverse facts as well as to schematize them in order to rule out confusion can already be seen.
In much of his work, Röntgen dealt with the fields of thermodynamics and electrodynamics , in which he examined in particular electrical discharges under various conditions. However, crystal physics was his greatest interest, because its aesthetics and beauty fascinated him.
In 1876, during his time in Strasbourg, he worked with Kundt to prove the rotation of the plane of polarization of light in gases. Michael Faraday and others sought this proof in vain, whereby Röntgen not only provided proof, but was also able to present precise measurements.
As a professor at the University of Würzburg discovered X-1895 X-rays , which later in the German-speaking world and in Poland in defiance of the will in X-rays have been renamed. This discovery happened by accident. Röntgen had previously followed investigations into cathode rays generated in evacuated tubes with great interest, as researched by Heinrich Hertz and Philipp Lenard as well as other physicists, and started independent experiments with them from the end of October 1895 (especially inspired by "Lenard's Pest") perform. In 1894, Röntgen had studied the widely acclaimed treatise by Philipp Lenard, published in Poggendorfs Annalen der Physik , on cathode rays that emerge from a window on the generator tube and were still detectable in the space behind, and obtained one of these tubes from Lenard. On the evening of November 8, 1895 began an experiment with a Hittorfröhre a special (with barium platinocyanide which is barium-platinum (II) cyanide) to light coated paper. This glow could still be seen, however, even at a greater distance from the tube, when the discharge tube was enclosed with thick black cardboard. However, it is unclear whether it was really the blackened paper that led the X-rays to the X-rays, or whether there was a fluorescent screen nearby on which the radiation was visible. Roentgen said: “I worked with a Hittorf-Crookes tube, which was completely wrapped in black paper. A piece of barium platinum black paper lay on the table beside it. I sent a current through the tube and noticed a strange black line across the paper! [...] Soon all doubt was excluded. 'Rays' came from the tube, which had a luminescent effect on the screen. ”In the period that followed, up to January 1896, Röntgen wrote three scientific research reports on this discovery. The first report, which Röntgen had already submitted to the secretary of the Physico-Medical Society in Würzburg as a manuscript for printing on December 28, 1895 , was entitled About a new kind of rays , was printed immediately without a previous meeting of the society and appeared shortly afterwards in English (January 23, 1896), French (February 8), Italian and Russian. From his first report on January 1, 1896, Röntgen had already received some of the items that were also immediately provided by the Stahel'sche Kgl. Hof- und Universitäts-Buch- und Kunsthandlung sent ten-page separate prints to colleagues (such as Jonathan Zenneck and Otto Lummer ). On January 1st, Röntgen also sent some copies of his first X-rays to the Viennese physicist Franz Exner . During a collegial discussion evening at Exner's, Ernst Lecher from Prague borrowed the recordings and showed them to his father, Zacharius Konrad Lecher, who was then editor of the old “Presse” in Vienna and commissioned his son to do one for the Sunday paper of the “Presse” To write a description of the sensational discovery.
Practical work and further development
The pioneers of glass apparatus construction have proven to be irreplaceable trailblazers for the discovery of Röntgen and its subsequent further development for use and marketability. Roentgen found capable engineers and glassblowers with a long tradition in the production of synthetic and utility glass , and since the first half of the 19th century also experienced in the production of technical glasses and devices, in the Thuringian Forest, which is close to Würzburg. Here he met with interest and willing support. The first X-ray tubes were manufactured in glass works in Stützerbach ( Greiner & Friedrichs glassworks ) and Gehlberg (Emil Gundelach and Franz Schilling hollow glassworks ) not far from the Rennsteig . In his 3rd publication on the subject in the Annalen der Physik from 1897, Röntgen expressly thanked him in a footnote: " ... I received a large part of it from the Greiner & Friedrichs company in Stützerbach i. T., which I received for the I would like to publicly express my thanks to me in abundance of material made available free of charge. "Together with the resident glassmakers and tumbler blowers , the discharge tubes were developed here according to Röntgen's ideas. In the years that followed, numerous models were built in series for many years. The Gundelach and Schilling companies in Gehlberg were among the world's leading manufacturers until the early 1920s. However, the introduction of the hot cathode by Coolidge in 1913 slowed this development. Other manufacturers asserted themselves by adopting the new, more advantageous technology more quickly. After the failed attempt to keep up, the manufacture of X-ray tubes in Gehlberg was stopped in 1925.
Until then, functional tests of the prototypes on humans took place here. Since at that time nothing was known about the health hazard of the newly discovered type of radiation, and the radiation dose used was still many times that of today's X-ray machines , many of the workers involved fell ill with cancer and died early. A memorial stone placed in the cemetery in Gehlberg is intended to commemorate this. The Heimat- und Glasmuseum Stützerbach and the Glasmuseum Gehlberg bear witness to the technical development of the early days.
Importance of X-ray technology
Never before had news of a scientific discovery spread so quickly as in the case of X-rays. On January 5, 1896, under the heading A sensational discovery, the first public news about it appeared in the morning edition of “Die Presse” in Vienna. The usefulness of "X-rays" in medicine was now immediately understandable for laypeople too. On March 9, 1896, Röntgen submitted his second communication about X-rays to the Physical-Medical Society in Würzburg, which, like the first, was immediately printed with the Society's meeting reports . Soon afterwards, the Würzburg private lecturer Albert Hoffa introduced the clinical examination with X-rays in his orthopedic private clinic, founded with Ernst Bumm in 1887, where he also set up an X-ray station. In March 1896, Hermann Gocht set up an X-ray institute at Hermann Kümmell's clinic in Hamburg-Eppendorf. The blasting cabinet in Bremen St. Joseph pen was three years after Roentgen's discovery of one of the first German hospitals who possessed an X-ray institute. Röntgen's discovery not only revolutionized medical diagnostics , but also enabled other groundbreaking scientific achievements of the 20th century.
As early as February 1896, Henri Becquerel , inspired by Röntgen, was experimenting with luminescent materials and by chance came across the penetrating effect of a new type of radiation. The discovery of X-rays indirectly led to the discovery of radioactivity , for which Becquerel was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1903 together with Marie and Pierre Curie .
Medical diagnostics is still the most important field of application for X-rays. In the course of time, the radiation exposure could be further reduced, at the same time the images became more detailed. Using mathematical methods, new imaging methods such as computer tomography can now produce three-dimensional images of the inside of the body.
X-rays also help in researching the microcosm ( X-ray microscope ) and in researching the universe ( X-ray astronomy ). Other important areas of application are in materials testing , where z. B. defects in metals or faulty welds by X-ray technique ( radiographic examination blank) finding.
Orders and other awards (selection)
- Knight of the Order of Merit of the Bavarian Crown . Röntgen rejected the associated personal nobility.
- Order of Merit of St. Michael I Class
- Commander of the Order of the Italian Crown
- 1896 Rumford Medal
- 1896 Matteucci Medal
- 1897 Elliott Cresson Medal
- 1900 Barnard Medal
- Prince Regent Luitpold Medal in silver
- 1901 member of the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art with Decoration
- 1911 Order Pour le Mérite for Science and the Arts
- Prussian Crown Order II class
- Iron cross on a white and black ribbon
- 1896 Honorary doctorate from the Medical Faculty of the University of Würzburg
- 1918 honorary doctorate from the Technical University of Munich
- 1920 honorary doctorate from the University of Frankfurt / Main
- 1896 honorary citizen of the city of Lennep
- Member or honorary member of numerous scientific societies at home and abroad
- 1901 Nobel Prize in Physics
- 1908 Excellence Award
- 1909 honorary citizen of Weilheim in Upper Bavaria
- 1921 honorary citizen of the city of Würzburg
X-ray as namesake
In honor of Röntgen, the following were named after him:
- the first X-ray-called X-ray
- the x-ray (x-ray diagnostics) and the x-ray images
- the German Radiological Society e. V., the professional association of German radiologists
- the now outdated unit X-ray
- the chemical element roentgenium
- the asteroid (6401) Roentgen
- the genus Roentgenia Urb. from the trumpet tree family (Bignoniaceae)
- the ICE 884 "Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen", which derailed in the ICE accident in Eschede in 1998 (after this disaster the name is no longer used for trains in Germany)
In addition, various scientific prizes:
- the X-ray badge of the city of Remscheid for scientists who have made a contribution to X-ray technology (since 1951)
- the Röntgen Prize for Radiation Physics and Radiation Biology from the University of Giessen (since 1960)
- the Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Prize for the best young scientist at the Institute for Physics and Astronomy at the University of Würzburg
- two awards from the German Roentgen Society (Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen Prize and Roentgen Ring)
Schools, streets and squares in Germany also bear his name. There is an X-ray grammar school in Würzburg and an X-ray grammar school in Remscheid-Lennep , but also a Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen secondary school in Weilheim. Also, the living space Röntgental bears his name. He is also remembered on medals, coins, postage stamps, emergency notes, tin plates, beer mats and buckets. In the Antarctic, the Röntgen Peak is named after him.
Museum and memorials
In Lennep, where Röntgen received a memorial after his death, the German Röntgen Museum has been located since 1930 . The house where Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born is still a step away from the German Röntgen Museum. It was acquired by the Deutsche Röntgengesellschaft in 2011 in order to professionally refurbish it and make it accessible to the public.
At the site of the discovery of X-rays, in the former Physics Institute of the University of Würzburg on the Pleicher Ring (later Röntgenring), the X-ray Memorial was established in 1985 . This gives an insight into the experimental physics of the late 19th century and shows, in addition to the discovery apparatus, a cathode ray experiment - which was the basis for the discovery of X-rays - as well as a fluoroscopic experiment with X-rays and the historic X-ray lecture hall . The memorial is operated by the Röntgen- Kuratorium Würzburg e. V.
In the spring of 1905 a memorial plaque with the inscription "In this house, WC Röntgen discovered the rays named after him in 1895" was placed at the Institute of Physics. His well-known colleagues Ludwig Boltzmann , Ferdinand Braun , Paul Drude , Hermann Ebert , Leo Graetz , Friedrich Kohlrausch , Hendrik Antoon Lorentz , Max Planck , Eduard Riecke , Emil Warburg , Wilhelm Wien , Otto Wiener and Ludwig Zehnder arranged for it to be attached .
On July 27, 1928, a bust created by Georgii was unveiled in the atrium of the University of Munich. A bust of Röntgen has been erected in the Walhalla near Regensburg since 1959. Commemorative plaques were attached to the Röntgenweg in Pontresina and the Landhaus Röntgen in Weilheim.
From 1898 to 1942 an X-ray monument created by Reinhold Felderhoff stood on the Potsdamer Bridge in Berlin. In 1962 an X-ray monument was erected in Gießen , which depicts stylized X-rays. There are other X-ray monuments in Berlin and Remscheid-Lennep.
The Heimat- und Glasmuseum Stützerbach and the Glasmuseum Gehlberg provide information on the early technical development history of the first X-ray tubes and their involvement by Röntgen itself.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize, the X-ray run has been organized in Remscheid every year on the last Sunday in October since 2001 with the support of the city administration, a marathon run in many variants and with an international response that leads around Remscheid.
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- A new kind of rays . 2nd edition Stahel, Würzburg 1896, digitized and full text in the German text archive ). (from: meeting reports of the Würzburg physical-medicin society 1895, for the first time under the title: Basic treatises on X-rays ,
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- X-ray Memorial Würzburg at the place where X-rays were discovered.
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- X-ray year 2020 website
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- See www.tandfonline.com (p.89, lines 10 - 11) On 27
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- Heinz Otremba: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. A life in the service of science. ... Würzburg 1970, p. 25 f.
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- Lotte Burkhardt: Directory of eponymous plant names - Extended Edition. Part I and II. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin , Freie Universität Berlin , Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-946292-26-5 doi: 10.3372 / epolist2018 .
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- Birthplace of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Foundation of the German Radiological Society.
- Heinz Otremba: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. A life in the service of science. ... Würzburg 1970, p. 26.
- Heinz Otremba: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. A life in the service of science. ... Würzburg 1970, p. 28.
- Heinz Otremba: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. A life in the service of science. ... Würzburg 1970, pp. 28 and 67.
- See Klaus Gast: The hyperinflation of 1923 and the emergency money in the Pfaffenwinkel. In: Lech-Isar-Land. 2007 yearbook, pp. 103–124.
- The title of the book, translated into German, is in: Albrecht Fölsing: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. Departure into the interior of matter. Munich 2002, p. 27.
|SURNAME||Roentgen, Wilhelm Conrad|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||German physicist|
|DATE OF BIRTH||March 27, 1845|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Lennep , now part of Remscheid|
|DATE OF DEATH||February 10, 1923|
|Place of death||Munich|