W.C. Roentgen (1845-1923) from Germany was the first Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
The physicist W.C. Roentgen from Germany won the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901 for his discovery of x-rays. He was born on 27 March 1845 at Lennep in the Prussian Rhine Province and received his early education at Ulrich, Holland and obtained doctoral degree in 1869 from the Polytechnic School at Zurich, Switzerland. He took up the post of Professor of Physics at Munich, where he continued until his death on 10 February 1923.
The discovery of x-rays was made quite by accident. Roentgen discovered them while studying fluorescence. He noticed that the rays produced by the passage of electricity through a high vacuum affected a photographic plate. He used this property to check the observation made with the fluorescent screen and named them as some x-rays to distinguish from other rays.
Roentgen is credited with three standard methods of investigations that are in current use. They are the fluorescent screen, the photographic plate and the prototype of the ionization chamber method besides the actual discovery of x-rays.
The potential of the x-rays for medical diagnosis was recognised immediately. Roentgen himself photographed the bones in the human body.
Roentgen’s pioneering discovery opened up new vistas in research. The work of a number of Nobel laureates hinged on the properties of x-rays. His discovery has been fundamental to the development of Modern Physics.