3 Unconventional Uses for X-Ray Technology

    August 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

    xray heartWhile mostly used for medicinal purposes (and warfare, be it office or overseas), people have taken X-rays and used them in interesting and unconventional ways. The capabilities of X-ray technology are somewhat limited: it produce an image, and that’s pretty much it. But the way in which that image is produced, the power driving the X-ray, and the way other materials react to the radiation sent out by it are all roads that unleash an avalanche of knowledge when properly explored. Here are three unconventional uses for X Ray Tech .


    EizoPinupCalendar X-rays have been utilized in art for decades, but one of the more popular instances of X-ray art is probably The Eizo Pin-Up Calendar 2010. Eizo, a medical supply brand, had a genius marketing idea: a pin-up calendar of sexy women — in X-ray form. To accomplish this, they made a bunch of NSFW pictures into creepy, SFW versions of themselves. The calendar became insanely viral and probably raked in a slew of new clients for Eizo in the process. Before Eizo’s X-ray calendar, plenty of artists used X-rays as a form of photography. A little more on the pretentious side, a woman named Leslie Wright calls her X-ray photography “Fine Art Radiography”, hoping to provide insight into the world around us by creating an internal view of objects that is not normally seen. Her X-rays of flowers, insects, small animals (from land and sea), machinery, and images created with the help of lightning show us the internal forces at work — many of which are never given a second thought. Unconventional artist Yury Shpakovski creates his own X-rays, illustrating intricate pictures of machinery and organisms as if they were real X-rays of fantastical vehicles or creatures such as a person’s skeleton fitted inside a snail shell, tail and all.


    Full-Body-Imaging-ScannersThe people responsible for the early stages of X-ray technology probably never would have guessed that someday, their advances would be wielded against the public in a never-before-known breach of piracy and human rights…or did they? It was for war, after all, that the first X-ray lasers were being developed under Reagan’s presidency in the early ’80s. Those initial developments proved fruitless; a nuclear X-ray laser could not and would not be sent to lie dormant in outer space until it was needed, and predictions regarding the possible utilization of a highly focused X-ray laser turned out to be just that: pure speculation (for the time being, anyway). For defensive tactics, however, stripping a person of their dignity with an X-ray is as easy as pushing a button. The best part is that the people trying to escape this easy terrorist-detectin technology are deterred by two things: firstly, the X-rays used by TSA are so low in radiation that they’re (apparently) safe for even a pregnant woman to undergo. Secondly, anyone who refuses the body scan gets to experience a fun, old-fashioned groping that the TSA likes to conservativel refers to as a  ‘pat-down search’. The TSA X-rays can’t see your skeleton, but they do read beneath clothes to produce a completely naked image of the body. Even this embarrassing process cannot catch every hidden object, however, which is only one of the criticisms lambasting it as an ultimately useless and degrading security tactic.

    X-Ray Crystallography

    protein crystalX-Ray crystallography is a method of using X-rays to determine the number and arrangement of atoms within a crystal. The X-ray is applied to the crystal in beams. The beams fracture and fan out into an array of different directions. Based on the angles and intensities of the beams within the crystal, the density of the crystal’s electrons can be determined. From here, mathematical equations are used to deduce the chemical bonds holding the electrons together, as well as other qualities about the crystal. A crystal can be made of a plethora of materials — salt, metals, minerals, and more. X-ray crystallography can give scientists insight into the chemical and physical makeups of all these materials, including the makeup and abilities of many vitamins, drugs, proteins, and even DNA. X-ray crystallography is even used in the development of new medicines to fight against disease. The X-rays that are diffracted inside the crystals are actually used to compose a 3D image of the atomic structure within the crystal, and a crystal that is too small or somewhat damaged can result in error or an unclear image. Before X-rays ever existed, this type of technology was predicted — or at least foreshadowed — by scientists in the 1880s. William Barlow suggested certain crystal structures around that time, but his work was deemed inconclusive due to the lack of X-ray technology present to confirm it. Almost two decades later, the first X-rays were developed and Barlow’s predictions were confirmed as truth.


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