Short resume What is X-RAY?
X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. In a health care setting, a machines sends are individual x-ray particles, called photons. These particles pass through the body. A computer or special film is used to record the images that are created.
Electromagnetic radiation of extremely short wavelength(100 nanometres to 0.001 nanometre) produced by the deceleration of charged particles or the transitions of electrons in atoms. X-rays travel at the speed of light and exhibit phenomena associated with waves, but experiments indicate that they can also behave like particles. On the electromagneticspectrum, they lie between gamma rays and ultraviolet radiation. They were discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who named them X-rays for their unknown nature. They are used in medicine to diagnose bone fractures, dental cavities, and cancer; to locate foreign objects in the body; and to stop the spread of malignant tumours. In industry, they are used to analyze and detect flaws in structures.
Optical light to which a typical human eye normally responds corresponds to the electromagnetic wavelengths located between 380 to 750 nanometers, with a maximum sensitivity at 555 nanometers. Against general belief, this specific wavelength is attributed to the green light, not to the red one! Thus, the human eye is more sensitive to the green color than to red. X-ray, on the other hand, is located in the electromagnetic spectrum between the wavelengths 0.01 to 10 nanometers, and, just like infrared, microwave and radio waves, this type of light is invisible to the human eye.
X-ray light is also more energetic than the previous types of electromagnetic radiation enumerated in the upper paragraph, but not the most energetic in the electromagnetic spectrum. Gamma ray has the highest frequency, energy and the shortest wavelengths inside the electromagnetic spectrum and it can pack such high energy that can actually create extensive damage in living cells.
Nonetheless, a single X-ray photon can have hundreds to thousands of times the energy of a photon of light in the optical spectrum. They were first discovered by German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895, who later received the Nobel Prize for physics for his finding that quickly got to be used for medical purposes.
X-ray light is being routinely emitted throughout the universe as highly energetic atoms experience a decay that returns them to the ground state energy configuration, when time electrons are being ejected. In the same time, the atom will also emit a X-ray photon in order to shed enough energy to return to the ground state. The process is commonly known as ‘braking radiation’. In X-ray generating devices on Earth we are capable of producing X-ray radiation by smashing electrically charged particles, such as electrons, into metal targets.
Usually, the metal targets are constructed out of tungsten, which emits X-ray radiation through a ‘braking radiation’ process, as an energetic beam of electrons is decelerated into the tungsten target. Not only that, but electron-tungsten atom collision produces X-ray radiation through two separate mechanisms, one by electron-atom collision and the second by electron emission from the tungsten atoms.
Alternatively, particle accelerators, such as synchrotron, can produce powerful beams of X-ray light by accelerating electrons at relativistic speeds. As they are being spun throughout the whole circumference of the synchrotron, electrons receive energy continuously, so that they reach higher and higher speeds. However, electrons cannot surpass 99.9 percent of the speed of light and they would eventually have to shed the excess energy through X-ray light emission.
Is X-ray radiation dangerous?
It is one of the ironies of radiological practice that X-rays can both cause cancer and be used to treat it. Nowadays, with the use of very small doses of radiation to produce high quality X-ray images, the risk of cancer after properly supervised X-ray examinations is extremely small; so small as to be of no consequence to any individual.
Because staff in the X-ray department work with X-rays all the time they would, if they stayed beside every patient, over the course of time, be exposed to quite a high dose of radiation. This is why they go behind a screen when the X-ray beam is switched on. The cumulative effect would be significant for them in a way that it is not significant for an individual patient.
Radiation can cause damage to a foetus, which is why, as far as possible, the use of X-rays during pregnancy is kept to the absolute minimum. Any woman who suspects that she is pregnant, and who has been referred for an X-ray examination, should make sure that the radiographers and doctors caring for her know about her condition.