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Learning from Lister

X-ray of Lister's hand

Photograph showing X-ray of Lister's handX-ray of Lister’s hand. Weston Education Centre, King’s College London.Lister was intrigued when the German physicist Karl Wilhelm Roentgen published a paper on what were later identified as x-rays in December 1895.

In May 1896 Lister had shown his Royal Society audience a Roentgen-ray picture of a bullet embedded in a hand which Oliver Lodge, professor of physics at University College London, had sent him.

Lister told his Royal Society audience that it was quite possible that x-rays might be used for diagnostic purposes (indeed they would be so used before the end of the century).

In his address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Lister said:

The improvements of the microscope, based on the principle established by my father ... have apparently nearly reached the limits of what is possible.

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