originally, any of the rays produced when cathode rays strike upon surface of a solid (as a copper target or the wall of the vacuum tube); now defined as electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength of 0.1 to 10 nanometers. X-rays are noted for their penetration of many opaque substances, as wood and flesh, their action on photographic plates, and their fluorescent effects. They were called X rays
by their discoverer, W. K. Röntgen
, but were also referred to for some time as Roentgen rays
. The term X-ray
has become the most common designation. They also ionize gases, but cannot be reflected, or polarized, or deflected by a magnetic field. They are used in examining objects opaque to visible light, as for imaging bones or other structures inside the human body, and for detecting flaws in metal objects, such as in welds. [Webster 1913 Suppl.