Wednesday, 31 January 2018

solve for x

With the exception of noted jerks like Edison and Ford, we’d like to think that our forward-looking titans of physics are above reproach and honest-brokers that give credit where credit is due, but I was rather deflated and despondent to learn how Wihelm Conrad Röntgen rather brazenly took all the praise and recognition away from a fellow physicist for the discovery of x-rays.  Ivan Puluj (who did not win the Nobel prize and does not have a chemical element and a mountain in Antarctica named after him) taught with Röntgen at the University of Vienna, and Puluj’s focus was on research into the nature of beams of electrons (cathode rays) and how those might be harnessed and designed what was dubbed a Puluj lamp (tube) to produce and direct them. Recognising the potential for medical imaging, Puluj even produced photographs of skeletal structures—at a higher qualities than those that Röntgen exhibited—not with electrons but rather with a collateral, hitherto unknown ray and apparently his inability to couch his discovery in the latest terminology cost him the honours.