Humans are an ingenious species. From the moment someone bashed a rock on the ground to make the first sharp-edged tool, to the development of Mars rovers and the Internet, several key advancements stand out as particularly revolutionary.

X-Rays – Wilhelm Roentgen

Okay, yes, x-rays are a phenomenon of the natural world, and thus can’t be created. But sshhh! The story of their discovery is a fascinating one of incredible chance. In 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was performing a routine experiment involving cathode rays, when he noticed that a piece of fluorescent cardboard was lighting up from across the room. A thick screen had been placed between his cathode emitter and the radiated cardboard, proving that particles of light were passing through solid objects. Amazed, Roentgen quickly found that brilliant images could be produced with this incredible radiation — the first of their kind being a skeletal image of his wife’s hand.

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