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X-ray voted top modern discovery

By Teo Kermeliotis, CNN
The discovery  of X-rays enabled doctors to see bones and other structures inside the human body.
The discovery of X-rays enabled doctors to see bones and other structures inside the human body.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The X-ray machine was voted the most significant scientific invention, in a poll by the Science Museum in London
  • Out of almost 50,000 votes cast, one in five people selected it as the object they believed it had the greatest impact on the past, present and future
  • X-rays were followed by the discoveries of penicillin and the DNA double helix structure
  • The public vote began on 10 June this year as part of the Science Museum's events to mark its centenary

London, England (CNN) -- The X-ray machine was Wednesday named the most important scientific invention, in a poll marking the centenary of the Science Museum in London.

Almost 50,000 people voted in the museum or online on a shortlist of ten discoveries and inventions from past centuries in science, technology and engineering.

The X-ray machine, which was discovered in 1895 and revolutionized how doctors detected disease and injury, struck a chord with most voters who singled it out for having made the greatest impact on the past, present and future.

It gathered one fifth of the votes( 9581 votes) followed by the discoveries of penicillin and the DNA double helix structure.

Katie Maggs, associate curator of medicine at the Science Museum, told CNN that she was "pleasantly surprised" with the results, saying she "wondered whether the therapeutic benefit of penicillin might just edge in front -- or perhaps the Apollo 10 capsule as visitors find space travel so inspirational as the ultimate test of technology."

Maggs attributed the X-ray machine's popularity to the wide impact it has on people's everyday life, from the very first steps of a medical diagnosis to security control at airports.

"People are just fascinated with seeing inside their bodies --- even today. It has fundamentally changed the way we see and understand our world -- but particularly our bodies.

Top ten modern discoveries
1. X-ray Machine
2. Penicillin
3. DNA Double Helix
4. Apollo 10 Capsule
5. V2 Rocket Engine
6. Stephenson's Rocket
7. Pilot ACE Computer
8. Steam Engine
9. Model T Ford
10. Electric Telegraph

"But I also think visitors are aware of the immense and various benefits x-rays have brought -- revolutionizing medical diagnosis and therapy but also astronomy and material and chemical science -- it was x-rays that enabled us to discover the structure of DNA after all!"

X-rays were discovered in November 1895 by German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen.

The Science Museum also houses the Reynolds machine, which was built by a father and son John and Russell Reynolds, months after Röntgen announced his discovery. They were so inspired by the news that they started constructing the equipment in their own home.

 
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