[FOUNTAIN] X-ray body scans due soonThe pioneer for looking into the body was Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. On Dec. 22, 1895, about a month after discovering X-rays, he took a picture. That X-ray image, featured on the cover of a book about 20th-century science history, shows the bones of a living person. The subject was the hand of Roentgen’s wife, Bertha. With a ring on her ring finger, her bones were black and the flesh was transparent, wrote Heinrich Zankl in his book, “Pleasant Rebellions in the Science History.”
When Mr. Roentgen ran the image in a newspaper, he explained, “My wife is visible.” His ambiguous expression led to instant misunderstanding. People thought that X-rays could pierce clothing to make a person visible and reveal their naked body.
Some worried that photographers could take nude photos on the street. According to Arthur Sutcliffe’s “Stories from Science,” a rumor spread in Britain about X-ray glasses that could see through clothing, striking terror in women. A London-based company even made a small fortune by selling underwear that was guaranteed to prevent X-ray penetration.
In the early days of discovery, X-rays were used everywhere. People wished to look into just about everything. One of the first subjects was the foot. Teresa Riordan wrote in “Inventing Beauty” that a clever businessman turned X-rays into a foot-measuring device. Named “foot-o-scope,” this device was sold to local footwear stores. Shoppers stood inside the device and greatly enjoyed looking at the bones of their feet moving.
In 1925, X-ray hair removal salons sprang up all around the United States. The cost was $3 for a treatment. Six treatments could completely remove all the hair from the roots. For 20 years, X-ray hair removal devices enjoyed wide popularity. However, an atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945 made people finally become aware of the danger of radiation.
The controversial X-ray body scan is expected to become a reality before the end of the year.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration plans to test the Backscatter X-ray machines at Phoenix airport around Christmas. While certain body parts will be blurred, some passengers are complaining that the scanner will show their nude image.
The TSA will give the passengers the option of choosing between the Backscatter machine and the traditional pat-down search procedure.
After all, it is not easy to look into other people. And this time, the X-ray proof underwear will not be useful.
The writer is a deputy business news editor
at the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Yi Jung-jae
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