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TECHNOLOGY

Nikola Tesla’s self-taken foot X-ray, and why he was never credited for the invention

Por: Ecoo sfera12 de noviembre de 2022

Although Tesla successfully got the first X-ray image, it was Wilhelm Röntgen the one who got the credit.

The Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla is widely recognized for his experiments in the field of electromagnetism and radio waves. It is basically thanks to him that today humanity bases its lifestyle on electrical energy, and he also laid the foundations for sending wireless signals. But perhaps one of his works that is less associated with him is his experiments with X-rays, which were also part of his inventions, and in fact, there is an iconic X-ray of one of his feet.

Tesla and X-rays

Tesla began experimenting with radiation energy in the late 19th century, specifically in the year 1894. During this time, the Serbian inventor built what he called ‘shadowgraphs,’ which was a high-energy vacuum tube that worked with the output of a Tesla coil, his most recognized invention of all.

To test its operation, Tesla used the only model he had on hand; himself. He set up his shadow-graphics camera and operated it while exposing one of his feet to it. The result is certainly astonishing, as it practically reveals the inventor’s foot bones, along with the metal structure that made up his shoe. The metal tangles through which the laces intertwine are very evident in the X-ray photograph of Tesla. In addition, how the shoemakers shaped the heels on the soles of the shoes with different nails to support the shoe is also revealed.

Unfortunately, his studio was involved in a devastating fire in 1895, which destroyed many of Tesla’s inventions. It is possible that if this had not happened, Nikola would have been ahead of the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, who published a comprehensive report on the use of X-rays. Had he not lost his research equipment, perhaps Tesla would now be recognized as the inventor of the X-ray machine.

But Tesla was a man completely passionate about science, and although Röntgen was recognized for the discovery of X-rays, he continued his experimentation in this respect. Later he was also able to get an X-ray image of his left hand exposed to X-rays. In fact, it was he who pointed out the benefits of using this type of technology for medical scanning purposes.

He suggested its use in medicine

Noting that X-rays showed very different images of bodies of higher density from more opaque bodies, he suggested that they would be of great use in finding foreign objects in the body and also as a means of detecting diseases.

Although, at that time, the potential damage of exposure to radiation waves was not known, with experimentation Tesla gradually realized that the distance and time of exposure were crucial factors in making the human body safe from the consequences of X-rays.

Tesla has been one of the most prolific inventors in the history of technological development, with more than 300 patents, although in his time not all of them were successful. The Serbian inventor passed in the New Yorker Hotel at the age of 86 in complete solitude and bankruptcy.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva


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