Q:

How do X-ray machines operate?

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Quick Answer

X-ray machines operate the same way a camera does, but instead of using visible light, they use X-rays to expose the film. These rays resemble light because they are electromagnetic waves just like light, but have higher energy that enable them to penetrate different materials at varying degrees.

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Full Answer

X-ray machines are used by health practitioners, such as radiographers to conduct X-ray examinations, and radiologists to interpret the images produced by the machines. The frequency of X-rays is high, making them able to penetrate through the human body. During the penetration, energy particles known as photons are absorbed by the body at different rates. This pattern is what is shown in an X-ray image.

Parts of the body made of dense material, such as the bones, are shown as clear white areas in the image while softer parts, such as the lungs and the heart are shown as the dark areas. During an X-ray examination, the part of the body being examined is positioned between a photographic plate and the X-ray machine. Within a fraction of a second, the X-rays from the machine pass through the body and hit the photographic plate, which captures a snapshot of the image. The captured image is then transferred to a computer for further analysis.

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