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[Perspectives] Radiation’s risks and cures

The earliest radiograph, a 15-min exposure taken by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895, remains the most famous image in the history of radiation. Less well known is the frightened comment of Röntgen’s wife on viewing her skeleton: “I have seen my own death!” Possibly in reaction, a cautious Röntgen took precautions to shield himself with lead and experienced no ill effects, unlike some other experimenters. As early as 1901, physician Francis Williams called for the protection of physicians and patients in The Roentgen Rays in Medicine and Surgery: As an Aid in Diagnosis and as a Therapeutic Agent.