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The first pristine image of bones beneath glowing flesh fascinated Clarence Dally in the 1890s.
He had just become an assistant to Thomas Edison, the first X-ray image had just been produced by another scientist, by accident, and Dally was ready to make the awe-inspiring technology his life's work.
Work - Cause - Death
Tragically, that work would also be his cause of death.
Dally exposed his hands to radiation over and over, for hours at a time, until melanoma bore holes in his hands - as documented in Edison's gruesome photos - led to the amputation of both his arms and, ultimately, his death.
Curiosity - Allure - Discovery - Humans
Our curiosity and the allure of discovery have always enchanted humans.
Maybe that's why Dally kept using his hands to test the X-ray he was helping Edison develop, long after they were in such constant pain he had to sleep with them in pales of water.
Edison - Account - Dally - Tubes - Edison
Maybe it's why, according to Edison's account, Dally always insisted on testing the strongest X-ray tubes, while Edison chose handle the less powerful ones.
Every year, doctors around the globe perform an estimated 3.6 billion X-ray exams, allowing them to precisely diagnose injuries and illnesses.
Countless - Lives - Radiology - Patients - Waves
Countless lives have been saved by modern radiology, but these patients are only exposed to the short, intense waves of X radiation, and wear protection over the parts of their bodies that don't need to be imaged.
The doctors and technicians that perform X-ray exams wear protection too, keeping their cancer risks at about the same level as anyone else's.
Case - Dally
That wasn't the case for Dally.
Dally had just begun working with Edison when his inventor boss began experimenting with X-rays.
Edison - Inventor - Image
Edison was not, however, the inventor of the X-ray image.
Through the scientific grapevine, he'd heard about the latest (accidental) triumph of Wilhelm Roentgen, a German physicist.
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