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Crookes tube, England, 1874-1900

During the late 1870s, Sir William Crookes (1832-1919) studied the effects of passing electricity through partially evacuated tubes like this one. Rays emitted from the cathode, which is an aluminium disc in this tube. Crookes was interested in studying the cathode rays. These cathode rays were later shown to be comprised of electrons. Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays by accident in 1895 while working with a Crookes tubes. He observed they were emitted when the cathode rays struck the glass.

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Glossary: x-ray tube

The part of an X-ray machine that produces X-rays. The tube itself operates under vacuum conditions.

Glossary: x-rays

A wave of electromagnetic radiation that has high energy and short wavelength. It is able to pass through many materials, except those of high density such as metals or bones. Discovered in 1895 by William Roentgen.