Nikola Tesla - Radiography Experiments

This article from the Newspaper Archives is about the experiments Nikola Tesla began to do with X-rays during 1896.

The Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, page 9. Friday, March 13, 1896.

Shoulder of a Man Taken Through His
Clothing--Chalky Deposits Infal-
libly Detected.
New York, March 10.--The Electrical Review will publish tomorrow a communication from Nikola Tesla, describing for the first time his very interesting experiments in radiography. The scientific world has been awaiting an expression of opinion from Mr. Tesla, who is known to have begun his experiments within an hour after the news of Professor Roentgen's discovery was cabled to this country. In connection with Mr. Tesla's communication, The Electrical Review prints two remarkable radiographs. One of these shows the right shoulder of a man taken through his clothing, a plate of glass three-sixteenths of an inch thick and two inches of wood. This radiograph, which was made at a distance of four feet from the source of the X rays, shows the ribs, shoulder bones and bones of the upper arm. The other radiograph shows a copper wire bent to form the word "Roentgen," and was made at a distance of eleven feet from the wooden side covering the sensitized plate.

Mr. Tesla also states that the refraction of the Crooke's tubes used in these experiments may be increased by electrical means to any degree desirable far beyond that obtainable by mechanical appliances. This method he describes. In regard to the nature of the X rays, he says:

"I am getting more and more convinced that we have to deal with a stream of material particles which strike the sensitive plate with great velocities. Taking as a basis the estimate of Lord Kelvin on the speed of projected particles in a Crooke's bulb, we arrive easily, by the employment of very high potential, to speeds of as much as a hundred kilometers a second. Now, again, the old question arises: Are the particles from the electrode or from the charged surface generally including the case of an external electrode, projected through the glass or aluminum walls, or do they merely hit the inner surface and cause particles from the outside of the wall to fly off, acting in a purely mechanical way, much as a row of ivory balls is struck? So far most of the phenomena indicate that they are projected through the wall of the bulb of whatever material it may be, and I am seeking for still more conclusive evidence in this direction.

"It is now demonstrated beyond any doubt that small metallic objects, or bony or chalky deposits can be infallibly detected in any part of the body."

Tesla has also secured radiographs showing the bony structure of birds and rabbits, even to the hollow bones. He has secured a radiograph of a rabbit after an hour's exposure, in which not only details of the skeleton are visible; but also a clear outline of the abdominal cavity, location of lungs and the fur are shown. Radiographs of large birds show the feathers distinctly; in another instance an exposure of forty minutes gave a radiograph of the human skull, showing clearly not only the outline, but the cavity of the eye, chin, cheek, nasal bones, the lower jaw and connection to the upper one, the vertebral column and connections to the skull, the flesh and even the hair.

Mr. Tesla concludes his communication in the following interesting words;

"By exposing the head to a powerful radiation, strange effects have been noted. For instance, I find that there is a tendency to sleep, and the time seems to pass away quickly. There is a general soothing effect, and I have felt a sensation of warmth in the upper part of the head. An assistant independently confirmed the tendency to sleep and a quick lapse of time. Should these remarkable effects be verified by men with keener sense of observation, I shall still more firmly believe in the existence of material streams penetrating the skull. Thus it may be possible by these strange appliances to project a suitable chemical into any part of the body."


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