Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9842
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    X-ray photograph of the hand of William Thomson

    6 May 1896
    William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs (1824 - 1907, British) , Physicist
    Alan Archibald Campbell Swinton (1863 - 1930, British) , Electrical engineer
    Object type
    height (print): 244mm
    width (print): 189mm
    height (mount): 302mm
    width (mount): 253mm
    Medical Sciences
       > Medical Physics
          > X-Ray
    Content object
    human body
       > hand
    X-ray image of Lord Kelvin’s left hand showing its bones and a faint outline of the soft tissue of his fingers, darkening towards his hand and wrist. A signet ring with an inset stone is visible on the little finger.

    Signed and dated on the print, below the thumb: “Kelvin R.S. May 6/96”. Inscribed in pencil verso: “Taken by A.A.Campbell Swinton at the Royal Society’s Soiree held on 6 May 1896.”

    The gift of prints is noted in Council Minutes: “Mr.A.A.C.Swinton has presented the Society with a series of Rontgen ‘Photographs’ taken at the May Soiree, and thanks have been given to him for them.” [Royal Society Council Minutes, Printed, CMP/7, meeting of 29 October 1896, p.294.]

    The exhibit from which this image is a demonstration was outlined in the Descriptive catalogue. The Royal Society. Conversazione, May 6th, 1896. Burlington House. (Royal Society, London, 1896), p.3. “Practical demonstration of Rontgen’s new photography, with experiments and exhibition of results. When a suitable Crookes’ vacuum tube is excited, the invisible radiations that proceed from the point where the cathode rays strike a solid substance, will impress photographic plates, will cause certain salts to fluoresce, and will discharge electrified bodies...Since bone is more opaque to these rays than tissue, it is possible by their means to obtain shadow photographs of the bones in the living body...Similarly other hidden objects, such as the coins in a purse, the contents of closed boxes...can be rendered apparent.”

    William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, was President of the Royal Society 1890-1895.
    Associated place
    <The World>
       > Europe
          > United Kingdom
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