Q:

Do X-ray glasses really work?

A:

Quick Answer

X-ray glasses are a novelty or gag product that do not work. They came out in the 1940s around the time that the X-ray machine was becoming prominent.

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Full Answer

In 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen discovered the X-ray by accident. Later experiments revealed that the X-ray could penetrate the human body as well as other objects of significant mass. Rontgen won the Nobel prize for the X-ray's contribution to medicine.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, shoe stores were outfitted with scopes that used X-rays so that customers could see their feet. Other products that took advantage of the public's fascination with X-rays were the "wonder tube," a tube with a hidden feather inside so that when someone stared through the hole at one end with the tube pointed at their hand, it appeared that they were viewing bones. The X-ray glasses were produced by the Adams company in the 1940s and were made out of plastic and cardboard.

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    The X-ray machine was invented by Wilhelm Röntgen in 1895. How he discovered the properties of X-rays is unknown, but the first X-ray image ever published was one that he took of his wife's hand.

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