Wilhelm Roentgen was born on March 27, 1845, in Germany. RÖentgen's first work was published in 1870, and it dealt with the specific heats of gases. Following a few years later was a paper on the thermal conductivity of crystals. RÖentgen's name, however, is chiefly associated with his discovery of the rays that he called X-rays. .
Before his discovery of x-rays, most of Roentgen's work focused on light phenomena and other emissions generated by discharging electrical current in highly-evacuated glass tubes. These tubes were generally known as "Crookes Tubes". Roentgen was mostly interested in cathode rays and in assessing their range outside of charged tubes. .
Wilhelm had been fiddling with a set of cathode ray instruments and was surprised to find a flickering image cast by his instruments separated from them by some distance. He knew that the image he saw was not being cast by the cathode rays (now known as beams of electrons) as they could not penetrate air for any significant distance. We know little about the sequence of his work over the next few days, except that while holding materials between the tube and screen to test the new rays, he saw the bones of his hand clearly displayed in an outline of flesh. He plunged into seven weeks of meticulously planned and executed experiments to determine the nature of the rays. He worked in isolation, telling a friend simply, "I have discovered something interesting, but I do not know whether or not my observations are correct."After some considerable investigation, he named the new rays "X" to indicate they were unknown. .
The discovery of X-rays, as well as their unique properties, electrified the general public. RÖntgen became a celebrity almost overnight, and several of his colleagues (against his objections) tried to rename the new form of radiation "RÖntgen Rays".
Numerous honours were showered upon him. In several cities, streets were named after him, and a complete list of Prizes, Medals, honorary doctorates, honorary and corresponding memberships of learned societies in Germany as well as abroad.