Page last updated at 09:10 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

X-rays 'top scientific invention'

x-ray of the hand
X-rays revolutionised diagnosis

The public has voted the X-ray machine as the best invention, ahead of the Apollo 10 space capsule and Stephenson's Rocket.

Out of nearly 50,000 votes cast, one in five people named it for having made the greatest impact on the past, present and future.

Ten of the most significant objects in science, engineering, technology and medicine were selected for the vote.

Information on all the items is found at the Science Museum in London.

The first three positions were filled by medical inventions or discoveries, the X-ray machine being followed by the discoveries of penicillin and the DNA double helix structure.

X-rays provided the first possibility of looking inside someone's body without cutting them open - a massive medical advance.

'Laying patients bare'

The particular X-ray machine in question - the Reynolds machine in the Museum's Making the Modern World Gallery - was a "do-it-youself" experiment by a father and son who were so inspired by news of the discovery of the X-ray that they set about building the equipment in their own home.

THE RESULTS
1st place - X-ray machines
2nd place - Penicillin
3rd place - DNA double helix
4th place - Apollo 10 capsule
5th place - V2 Rocket Engine
6th place - Stephenson's Rocket
7th place - Pilot ACE Computer
8th place - Steam Engine
9th place - Model T Ford
10th place - Electric Telegraph

Museum curator Katie Maggs said: "It's very inspirational to budding scientists to learn that an invention now declared the most important in world history could be pioneered by enthusiastic amateur inventors."

Professor Andy Adam, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, was delighted to learn of the result.

He said the X-ray machine had revolutionised medical practice and that the technology had now advance so much that we are reaching the era of the "transparent patient".

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: "Any competition that pits the Apollo 10 spacecraft against Stephenson's Rocket, and the DNA double helix against the Model T Ford, is bound to provide talking points aplenty.

"The public's choice of the X-ray machine as the winner is testament to our insatiable curiosity to find out how things work."

The poll was conducted as part of the Science Museum's events to mark its centenary. The 10 objects form a special Centenary Journey trail through the museum galleries.

Advertisement

Medical inventions were in the top three places in the poll



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Hunt for all-time top invention
09 Jun 09 |  London
X-rays assess Minster's erosion
08 Oct 09 |  North Yorkshire
Sticky tape is source of X-rays
23 Oct 08 |  Science & Environment

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific