A Collection of Interesting Facts About X-ray Through the Years

KA Imaging loves celebrating innovation and the history of X-ray technology. Here are some facts we found intriguing and fun: 

1. The most powerful X-ray generator has an output 80 times that of all the world’s electric generators.

The Z Pulsed Power Facility, known as the Z Machine, made at the Sandia National Laboratories, USA, and refurbished in 1996, is used to study extreme conditions in physics, like the nature of black holes1. It is the largest high-frequency electromagnetic wave generator and is used to gather data for nuclear research and development.  

2. The most powerful X-ray telescope has the resolving power equivalent to the ability to read a stop sign at 12 miles away.

The Chandra, made in July of 1999, orbits the earth 200 times higher than Hubble, more than 1/3 of the way to the moon2. This telescope, with four very sensitive mirrors, detects X-ray emissions from stars, galaxies and black holes3

3. An X-ray image was essential for developing a model of human DNA.

Photo 51 was taken by Raymond Gosling, a student of Rosalind Franklin, in May 1952 at King’s College London. This X-ray diffraction image of a gel with DNA fiber was used for developing a model of human DNA structure4 

4. X-rays were used in shoe stores from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes were used in shoe stores around the world and were often used to measure the feet of young children. They looked like a wooden box or short column, with an opening for customers to place their feet. The X-ray view of their feet could be seen through portholes at the top of the box5

5. More than a million wounded soldiers in WWI had X-ray exams due to the efforts of Madame Marie Curie. 

Marie Curie brought radiological cars right to the battlefields of France with the help of the Union of Women and 150 female volunteers. Curie’s cars contained an X-ray machine and photographic darkroom equipment, and used an electric generator. Curie even learned to drive and repair her donated vehicles6. 

6. X-rays can see old paintings

It is absolutely fascinating that x-ray technology can be used more than just in the medical world. When art historians want to know if there was something painted on a canvas before the final work of art, they can use x-rays to determine that7.

7. X-ray named top achievement by British museum

X-Ray was named the most important modern scientific discovery exceeding 50K votes in a Science Museum of London poll, even surpassing penicillin8


1. Most powerful X-ray generator


2.  Most powerful X-ray telescope. 


3. Chandra X-ray Observatory


4. Photo 51


5. Shoe-fitting fluoroscopes


6. Marie Curie


7. Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring .


8. British museum