Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, German physicist, c 1890.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Originally an engineering student at Zurich Polytechnic, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen (1845-1923) later turned to physics becoming Profesor of Physics at the University of Wurzburg. In 1895 he experimented with cathode rays and made the discovery which he named X-rays - the 'X' signified their unknown origin. The X- rays were able to pas through matter and take photographic images of bones inside the body. He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.