Wilhelm Rontgen
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
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Wilhelm Roentgen—Physicist, Discoverer of the X-Ray

March 27, 1845, Lennep, Germany, 2:00 PM or  4:00 PM, (Sources: both times are said to be taken from birth records) Died, February 10, 1923, Munich, Germany.                  

(Ascendant, Leo or Virgo; Sun exactly conjunct Uranus in Aries, with Mercury also conjunct Jupiter in Aries; Pluto also in Aries; Moon in Scorpio; Venus in Pisces; Mars in Capricorn; Saturn and Neptune both in Aquarius.)          
(Revision is required)           

The X-ray is a subtle energy with great power to penetrate and reveal. It is no surprise, therefore, to find Uranus, the planet ruling rays, radiation and subtle energies conjuncted to Roentgen’s pioneering Aries Sun.
The healing potential of the X-ray is indicated by the Virgo Ascendant with Chiron conjunct the Ascendant. Perhaps the sign most associated with the power of the X-ray to reveal the hidden is Scorpio, which houses Roentgen’s Moon. As well, the great concentration of planets (Sun, Uranus, Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto) is in H8, one of the houses of research and the house most associated with Scorpio. The research potentials of this chart are very great—Scorpio, third house, eighth house, Uranus, Uranus parallel to Chiron and Pluto contraparallel to the Ascendant, etc..  

Given Roentgen’s field of enquiry the presence of the fifth ray at a deep level is an unavoidable conclusion, but like Madame Curie and Millikin (the discoverer of cosmic rays), the seventh ray may also be present—especially given the conjunction of seventh ray Uranus to the Sun in Aries (a sign ruled by both the first and seventh rays). The orthodox ruling planet of the Aries Sun is Mars in seventh ray Capricorn, and Virgo, as well, always seems to correlate highly with the presence of the seventh ray—though the rays assigned to Virgo by the Tibetan do not contain the seventh.           

The Moon in Scorpio conjunct the North Node seems a very important feature in this chart. We must remember the importance of the third house in the matter of investigation and the expansion of knowledge. Einstein had a third house Uranus singleton, and his thought changed the field of knowledge forever. The discovery of the X-Ray, while not so dramatic, also changed the field of thought—the invisible became visible. We find that the Moon is the esoteric ruler of the Virgo Ascendant. The Scorpio Moon position connected with material Virgo, promises revelation concerning the deeper (Scorpio) nature of matter (Virgo). The Moon is to be considered the veil for with Vulcan, Neptune or Uranus, and while, in the case of Roentgen, justification might be possible for any of these three, the most convincing choice would be Uranus (exalted ruler of Scorpio), ruler of both orthodox science and occult science and intimately connected with rays and radiation. Uranus, further, is to be chosen as veiled by the Moon in the case of advanced or intellectual man. Thus, with the actual of veiled Uranus to be found in both the third and eighth houses, we can see the very great potential for discovery. The conjunction with the North Node of the Moon shows the importance of this position, indicating it as a point for deliberate focus.         

If we examine the preponderance of zodiacal signs which might indicate an emphasis upon one ray or another, Aries and Capricorn stand out, emphasizing the first and seventh rays, with the seventh ray reinforced by the Sun/Uranus conjunction and the Virgo Ascendant. Zodiacally, all rays are present. The fifth ray has access to the chart through the Aquarius planets, Saturn and Neptune, as well as through Uranus (with a significant fifth ray component). One would think Venus in Pisces might draw forth more the second and sixth ray potentials if this sign, but fifth ray Venus is trine the investigative Scorpio Moon, and Pisces is a sign related to subtlety and to that which is invisible


I didn't think; I experimented.


Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen – Biography
Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born on March 27, 1845, at Lennep in the Lower Rhine Province of Germany, as the only child of a merchant in, and manufacturer of, cloth. His mother was Charlotte Constanze Frowein of Amsterdam, a member of an old Lennep family which had settled in Amsterdam.

When he was three years old, his family moved to Apeldoorn in The Netherlands, where he went to the Institute of Martinus Herman van Doorn, a boarding school. He did not show any special aptitude, but showed a love of nature and was fond of roaming in the open country and forests. He was especially apt at making mechanical contrivances, a characteristic which remained with him also in later life. In 1862 he entered a technical school at Utrecht, where he was however unfairly expelled, accused of having produced a caricature of one of the teachers, which was in fact done by someone else.

He then entered the University of Utrecht in 1865 to study physics. Not having attained the credentials required for a regular student, and hearing that he could enter the Polytechnic at Zurich by passing its examination, he passed this and began studies there as a student of mechanical engineering. He attended the lectures given by Clausius and also worked in the laboratory of Kundt. Both Kundt and Clausius exerted great influence on his development. In 1869 he graduated Ph.D. at the University of Zurich, was appointed assistant to Kundt and went with him to Würzburg in the same year, and three years later to Strasbourg.

In 1874 he qualified as Lecturer at Strasbourg University and in 1875 he was appointed Professor in the Academy of Agriculture at Hohenheim in Wurtemberg. In 1876 he returned to Strasbourg as Professor of Physics, but three years later he accepted the invitation to the Chair of Physics in the University of Giessen.

After having declined invitations to similar positions in the Universities of Jena (1886) and Utrecht (1888), he accepted it from the University of Würzburg (1888), where he succeeded Kohlrausch und found among his colleagues Helmholtz and Lorenz. In 1899 he declined an offer to the Chair of Physics in the University of Leipzig, but in 1900 he accepted it in the University of Munich, by special request of the Bavarian government, as successor of E. Lommel. Here he remained for the rest of his life, although he was offered, but declined, the Presidency of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt at Berlin and the Chair of Physics of the Berlin Academy.

Röntgen's first work was published in 1870, dealing with the specific heats of gases, followed a few years later by a paper on the thermal conductivity of crystals. Among other problems he studied were the electrical and other characteristics of quartz; the influence of pressure on the refractive indices of various fluids; the modification of the planes of polarised light by electromagnetic influences; the variations in the functions of the temperature and the compressibility of water and other fluids; the phenomena accompanying the spreading of oil drops on water.

Röntgen's name, however, is chiefly associated with his discovery of the rays that he called X-rays. In 1895 he was studying the phenomena accompanying the passage of an electric current through a gas of extremely low pressure. Previous work in this field had already been carried out by J. Plucker (1801-1868), J. W. Hittorf (1824-1914), C. F. Varley (1828-1883), E. Goldstein (1850-1931), Sir William Crookes (1832-1919), H. Hertz (1857-1894) and Ph. von Lenard (1862-1947), and by the work of these scientists the properties of cathode rays - the name given by Goldstein to the electric current established in highly rarefied gases by the very high tension electricity generated by Ruhmkorff's induction coil-had become well known. Röntgen's work on cathode rays led him, however, to the discovery of a new and different kind of rays.

On the evening of November 8, 1895, he found that, if the discharge tube is enclosed in a sealed, thick black carton to exclude all light, and if he worked in a dark room, a paper plate covered on one side with barium platinocyanide placed in the path of the rays became fluorescent even when it was as far as two metres from the discharge tube. During subsequent experiments he found that objects of different thicknesses interposed in the path of the rays showed variable transparency to them when recorded on a photographic plate. When he immobilised for some moments the hand of his wife in the path of the rays over a photographic plate, he observed after development of the plate an image of his wife's hand which showed the shadows thrown by the bones of her hand and that of a ring she was wearing, surrounded by the penumbra of the flesh, which was more permeable to the rays and therefore threw a fainter shadow. This was the first "röntgenogram" ever taken. In further experiments, Röntgen showed that the new rays are produced by the impact of cathode rays on a material object. Because their nature was then unknown, he gave them the name X-rays. Later, Max von Laue and his pupils showed that they are of the same electromagnetic nature as light, but differ from it only in the higher frequency of their vibration.

Numerous honours were showered upon him. In several cities, streets were named after him, and a complete list of Prizes, Medals, honorary doctorates, honorary and corresponding memberships of learned societies in Germany as well as abroad, and other honours would fill a whole page of this book. In spite of all this, Röntgen retained the characteristic of a strikingly modest and reticent man. Throughout his life he retained his love of nature and outdoor occupations. Many vacations were spent at his summer home at Weilheim, at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, where he entertained his friends and went on many expeditions into the mountains. He was a great mountaineer and more than once got into dangerous situations. Amiable and courteous by nature, he was always understanding the views and difficulties of others. He was always shy of having an assistant, and preferred to work alone. Much of the apparatus he used was built by himself with great ingenuity and experimental skill.

Röntgen married Anna Bertha Ludwig of Zürich, whom he had met in the café run by her father. She was a niece of the poet Otto Ludwig. They married in 1872 in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. They had no children, but in 1887 adopted Josephine Bertha Ludwig, then aged 6, daughter of Mrs. Röntgen's only brother. Four years after his wife, Röntgen died at Munich on February 10, 1923, from carcinoma of the intestine.
From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1901-1921, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1967
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Wilhelm RöntgenWilhelm Conrad Röntgen (March 27, 1845 – February 10, 1923) was a German physicist, of the University of Würzburg, who, on November 8, 1895, produced wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation that are now known as x-rays or Röntgen Rays. The machine which Röntgen built to emit these rays, was the x-ray machine. Röntgen's name is usually given as Roentgen in English, therefore most scientific and medical references to him are found under this spelling.

During 1895 Röntgen was using equipment developed by his colleagues Hertz, Hifforf, Crookes, and Lenard to explore the effects of high tension electrical discharges in evacuated glass tubes. By late 1895 these investigators were beginning to explore the properties of cathode rays outside the tubes. In early November Röntgen was repeating an experiment with one of Lenard's tubes in which a thin aluminum window had been added to permit the cathode rays to exit the tube but a cardboard covering was added to protect the aluminum from damage by the strong electrostatic field that is necessary to produce the cathode rays. He knew the cardboard covering prevented light from escaping, yet Röntgen observed that the invisible cathode rays caused a fluorescent effect on a small cardboard screen painted with barium platinocyanide when it was placed close to the aluminum window. It occured to Röntgen that the Hifforf-Crookes tube, which had a much thicker glass wall than the Lenard tube, might also cause this fluorescent effect.

In the late afternoon of November 8, 1895 he determined to test his idea. He carefully constructed a black cardboard covering similar to the one he had used on the Lenard tube. He covered the Hifforf-Crookes tube with the cardboard and attached electrodes to a Ruhmkorff coil to generate an electrostatic charge. Before setting up the barium platinocyanide screen to test his idea, Röntgen darkened the room to test the opacity of his cardboard cover. As he passed the Ruhmkorff coil charge through the tube, he determined that the cover was light-tight and turned to prepare the next step of the experiment. It was at this point that he noticed a faint shimmering from a bench a meter away from the tube. To be sure he tried several more discharges and saw the same shimmering each time. Striking a match, he discovered the shimmering had come from the location of the barium platinocyanide screen he had been intending to use next.

Röntgen spent the next several hours repeating the experiment again and again. He quickly determined that the screen would fluoresce at a distance from the tube much greater than his previous tests. He speculated that a new kind of ray might be responsible. Novermber 8 was a Friday and Röntgen took advantage of the weekend to repeat his experiments and make his first notes. In the following weeks he ate and slept in his laboratory as he investigated nearly all the properties of the new rays he temporarily termed x-rays, using the mathematical designation for something unknown. Although the new rays would eventually come to bear his name when they became known as Röntgen Rays, he always preferred the term x-rays.

Röntgen's discovery of x-rays was no accident and he was not working alone. With the investigations he and his colleagues in various countries were pursuing, the discovery was imminent. In fact, x-rays were produced and a film image recorded at the University of Pennsylvania two years earlier. However, the investigators did not realize the significance of their discovery, filed their film for further reference, and thereby lost the opportunity for recognition of one of the greatest physics discoveries of all time. The idea that he just happened to notice the barium platinocyanide screen totally misrepresents his investigative powers. He had planned to use the screen in the next step of his experiment and would have made the discovery at that point a few moments later.

At one point while he was investigating the ability of various materials to stop the rays, he brought a small piece of lead into position while a discharge was occurring. Imagine Röntgen's astonishment as he saw the first radiographic image, his own flickering ghostly skeleton on the barium platinocyanide screen. He later reported that it was at this point that he determined to continue his experiments in secrecy, because he feared for his professional reputation if his observations were in error.

Röntgen's original paper, "On A New Kind Of X-Rays," was published 50 days later on December 28, 1895. On January 5, 1896, an Austrian newspaper reported Röntgen's discovery of a new type of radiation. Röntgen was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from University of Würzburg after his discovery. He published a total of 3 papers on x-rays between 1895 and 1897. His investigative powers were so phenomenal that none of his conclusions have yet been proven false.

In 1901 Röntgen was awarded the very first Nobel Prize in Physics. The award was officially, in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him. Röntgen donated the monetary reward from the prize to his university. Like Pierre Curie would do several years later he refused to take out any patents related to his discovery on moral grounds. He did not even want the rays to be named after him. (On November 2004 IUPAC named the element Roentgenium after him as well.)

He was born in Lennep (now a part of Remscheid), Germany, to a clothmaker. His family moved to Apeldoorn in the Netherlands when he was three years old. He received his early education at the Institute of Martinus Herman van Doorn. He later attended Utrecht Technical School, from which he was expelled for producing a caricature of one of the teachers, a "crime" he claimed not to have committed.

In 1865, he attended the University of Utrecht. He then began to attend the Polytechnic at Zurich to study mechanical engineering. In 1869, he graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich.

In 1867 he became a lecturer at Strasbourg University and in 1871 became a professor at the Academy of Agriculture at Hohenheim, Württemberg. In 1876, he returned to Strasbourg as a professor of Physics and in 1879, he became the Chair of the physics department at the University of Giessen. In 1888, he became the physics chair at the University of Würzburg and in 1900 he became the physics chair at the University of Munich, by special request of the Bavarian government. Röntgen had family in the United States (in Iowa) and at one time he planned to emmigrate. Although he accepted an appointment at Columbia University in New York City and had actually purchased transatlantic tickets, the outbreak of World War I changed his plans and he remained in Munich for the rest of his career. Röntgen died in 1923 of carcinoma of the bowel. It is not believed his carcinoma was a result of his work with ionizing radiation because his investigations were only for a short time and he was one of the few pioneers in the field who used protective lead shields routinely.


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