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X-Rays: the Century-Long History of Your Trip to the Dentist

November 5, 2012

There’s a keystone in every great invention

What if – whenever you next went to the dentist– there weren’t any X-ray machines to help scan for residual tooth decay? Quite simply, you wouldn’t have modern civilization.  X-rays are a workhorse technology that have saved and improved millions of lives worldwide since their chance discovery by the German physicist, Wilhelm Rontgren, in 1895. But it would take a bloody world war and a Nobel prize-winning French physicist to bring X-ray technology out of the laboratory and into mainstream usage.

World War I was – in its time – Keystone THiNK Skeletonthe bloodiest war the world had ever seen. While the names of battles like Verdun, the Somme, and Ypres have dimmed over time, they remain the most costly battles ever fought by humankind. It was during that war that the famous French physicist, Marie Curie, the first woman ever to claim the Nobel Prize in Science, saw a vital need to develop a better means of treating wounded French soldiers. If the internal specifics of bullet and shrapnel wounds could be determined by X-ray machines, then there was a greater chance of healing soldiers without risk of amputation or infection.  Together with a medical staff that eventually numbered over 200, Curie drove improvised vans equipped with X-ray machines to the front-line trenches of the Western Front, using X-rays to diagnose the specific natures of the wounds inflicted on infantrymen. As bloody a conflict as the First World War proved to be, it could have been that much more lethal without X-ray technology.

It was Curie’s defining, keystone contribution that ushered X-rays into widespread use. Today, X-rays are used in everything from airport security to industrial radiography. We at Keystone are proud suppliers of the various mechanisms that allow for X-rays to work. Such as: test pointsquick fit terminalsLED spacersLED lens capsspacers and stand-offs,  battery clips, contacts and holdersfuse clips and holders,  to name just a few. These are just some of the products we design and manufacture that allow the X-ray business to keep flourishing.

So next time you head to the dentist, take a moment in between painful sensations to consider that without people like Marie Curie bringing X-ray technology out of the laboratory and into the everyday world, they might very well still be extracting your tooth by tying it to a door. Remember, when it comes to quality products, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”