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X-Ray Movies

Excerpt from article in TIME Magazine (1936)

... at the 37th annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in Cleveland last week ...

Reported was the successful making of x-ray moving pictures with a home camera and 16-mm. film. Drs. William Holmes Stewart, William Joseph Hoffman, and Francis Henshall Ghiselin developed the technique at Manhattan's Lenox Hill Hospital. The heart of the problem was to get a sharp, clear x-ray image on a fluoroscopic screen. The sharpness of the image depended on 1) the brightness of fluorescent material in the screen and 2) the length of time a patient may be subjected to x-ray transillumination. The invention in England of a zinc sulphide preparation which gave a bright blue image under x-rays and a cyanide preparation which gave a brilliant greenish yellow image solved the whole matter, for there are moving picture films which record clear pictures in those lights. Two seconds suffice to picture two or three beats of the heart, the acts of breathing and swallowing, movements of the diaphragm, abnormal action within the thorax, motions of joints. The relative thickness of the abdomen makes photographing the movements of its organs less satisfactory. Two seconds is too brief to get a good picture of the complete peristaltic wave of the stomach. But two seconds is enough to portray an ulcer in the fluctuating stomach or in the fluctuating duodenum.For ordinary patients, Drs. Stewart, Hoffman & Ghiselin operate the moving picture camera at a standard speed of 16 frames a second, or 32 frames for the cycle. For unusually thick patients, through whom x-rays do not penetrate easily, the operators slow the camera twelve or eight frames a second. Thin people can stand 24 frames a second. The four chambers of their hearts then can be seen contracting on the projection screen.

The positive print of such an x-ray film may be cemented into a loop in a projector and run over and over to show a roomful of observers precisely how the patient breathes, throbs, swallows, belches.

Excerpt from "X-Rays at Cleveland" article in TIME Magazine (Monday, 12 Oct 1936) (source).

See also:
  • Today in Science History Icon 2 October - event description for X-ray Movies.
  • Today in Science History Icon 12 October - event description for X-ray Movies.

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
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