The purpose of this unit is to provide an historical aspect to the developments which lead to the discovery of the x-ray in 1895 by Professor Wilhelm Conrad Ršntgen. (This is the correct spelling, variant forms will appear in various literature.) The unit is divided into two main sections which include developments prior to that of Ršntgen in the first section and Ršntgen’s work in the second section. The major focus of the unit lies in the first section of the unit which attempts to trace the connection between observations on magnetism, static electricity, current electricity, vacuum developments and the passage of electrical currents through vacuum tubes which lead Ršntgen to his discovery.
The unit could be utilized in three separate ways. First, a teacher could use the unit as a reference and teach only one of the two parts or portions of the first section. The information in this unit might then serve as a short introduction to the other units in this booklet. Secondly, the information provided which is of an historical nature and where teachers are involved in team or cluster situations, could be shared with either or both the English and history teacher. This would enable a science teacher to reinforce this information by utilizing the suggested activities. Thirdly, a science teacher could utilize both aspects of the unit entirely in the science classroom.
The unit would ideally be most suitable to students who have had or are having a course in general science or physics. The unit would be most easily understood by students who have been exposed to material on light and the electromagnetic spectrum, magnetism, and perhaps the basics of electricity. Of the topics listed, the most important would most likely be the electromagnetic spectrum and secondly, magnetism in terms of its value in understanding such concepts of field, force, attraction, etc . . . The unit could be used with students at both middle and high school levels who have had at least a minimal exposure to the afore mentioned areas.
The specific objectives in the unit include the following items:
1. To provide a vertical line of events which lead to the discovery of the x-ray.
2. To show the relationship between magnetism, electricity, vacuums, cathode rays and x-rays.
3. To provide some historical and biographic information on the men of science who contributed to developments which lead to Ršntgen’s discovery.
4. To provide information on the experiments conducted on x-rays by RGntgen.