Canad. M. A. J. 1
Jan. 1946, vol. 54i1
MEN AND BOOKS: WILHELM CONRAD RONTGEN
in the larger universities.
of the times aright these alumni are on the way,
at least in provincial universities, to making
their voice heard.
Moreover the curriculum will have to undergo
change, if our students are to fulfil properly their
duties to their patients in all matters that
pertain to the improvement of their health.
Knowledge of town planning, housing, heating
and lighting, clothing, environmental conditions,
as well as of sewage disposal, water and food
supply and measures to be used to prevent
disease, will be essential if they are truly to
fulfil their duties as medical advisers.
has already established a chair of social and
preventive medicine with this in mind.
been said, we have learned in many instances
the cause of disease but do not know the cause
behind the cause.
In our second principle we
state that improved
precede any plan of health insurance.
a thorough understanding and knowledge of the
living conditions, etc. of our patients we are in
a preferred position if adequately trained, to
lead the way in effecting improvement in social
Education in social and preventive
medicine, greater in degree and fuller in scope,
cannot be ignored by our universities.
only should students receive this training but
also our graduates, if they are to co-operate
with the other agencies in their community and
give leadersip in the development, slow though
it be, of all that is good for the health of our
Another phase of education needs emphasiz-
ing, namely, education of the people as to their
responsibility and opportunity as individuals
and members of society in promoting the wel-
fare and happiness of all in a community.
proved health for an individual or a community
can only come into being through co-operation
of all concerned.
In this the practising phy-
sician should and must give leadership with the
assistance of nurses, dentists, hospitals, officers
of health, municipal authorities and all organi-
zations interested in the welfare of the com-
Herein lies a great opportunity for the medical
man, be he teacher or practitioner.
What about postgraduate education?
doors to a large extent closed for study in the
United States and Great Britain, the challenge
to provide postgraduate instruction must be
accepted and made effective by our own uni-
versities, larger hospitals and practitioners.
my mind this is all to the good.
matters pertaining to our national life, we have
been too retiring and timid, have suffered from
an inferiority complex about our abilities and
capacities in the science of medicine.
has shaken some of this nonsense out of us.
May the process continue.
thing as Canadian Medicine.
gether and put it on the map for the glory of
Canada and the benefit of mankind.
If I read the signs
social conditions must
As in other
There is such a
Let us act to-
ffien aub 3BooIi
WILHELM CONRAD RONTGEN (1845-
1923) AND THE EARLY DEVELOPMENT
By E. Ashworth Underwood, M.A.,
The year 1945 is associated in two ways with
the life and work of the great physicist, Rontgen.
Since he was born on March 27, 1845, it is the
His greatest discovery was
made on November 8, 1895, just fifty years
The present time seems opportune to
review his work and to remember, in passing,
those other pioneers who made his discovery
The production of x-rays depends essentially
on the fact that when an interrupted current
of electricity is passed through a vacuum tube,
a stream of rays-the cathode stream-flows
from the cathode.
The cathode stream can
be bent by a magnet.
another body, the glass of the tube or a specially
prepared anode, x-rays are produced.
and properties these are essentially different
advance could be made in the discovery of
x-rays, two operations had to be practicable-
the production, first of a good vacuum, and
second of an interrupted electric current.
is strange that both of the appliances necessary
were discovered by the same man-Otto von
Guericke of Magdeburg-and were published
in the same book.
Guericke (1602-1686) was born in Magdeburg and
studied mathematics and mechanics.
man of the world, and he worked on the fortifications of
He did not publish his celebrated book
until he was 70 years of age, and the date of the invention
of the air-pump is therefore uncertain.
between 1635 and 1645.
He first used wooden casks and
later a copper sphere, which collapsed when a certain
degree of exhaustion had been reached.
strated his results before the Imperial Diet at Ratisbon
The demonstration took first the form of a
proof that after exhaustion thirty horses were required to
pull the spheres apart; and secondly, an estimation of the
actual force required
proved conclusively by this method that air has weight,
and he was able to make a rough guess at its density.
Since his results were not then published, we have to
turn to another source for the first description of his
Caspar Schott (1608-1666) published in 1657.
Schott was Professor of Physics and Mathematics at
Wiirsburg, there is a coincidental connection between
the inventor of the air-pump and the man who made the
most fruitful use of it.
In England Robert Boyle (1627-
1691) became interested in the air, and his air-pump was
an improvement on that of Guericke.
well-known monograph on The Spring of the Air (1660),
which had important results in many fields.
by Boyle's developments, Guericke later made a third
air-pump, which was a great improvement on his previous
Experimenia Nova (ut vocantur) Magdeburgica de Vacuo
*Reproduced in part from the Proceedings of the Royal
Society of Medicine, 38: 697, 1945.
Where it impinges on
He was a practical
It was probably
The result was his
His results were published in his great work,
THE GENERAL SECRETARY'S PAGE
as Sir William Crookes, Sir J. J. Thomson and
Sir Ernest Rutherford were consistently more
valuable in the development of atomic physics.
The stage was set for the discovery of x-rays,
and Rontgen was the actor chosen by fate to
take the cue.
Had he failed to do so, the dis-
To every member of the Association, I would
like to say, Happy New Year.
To you who are still in His Majesty's service,
we at home hope for your early and safe return.
To those who have put aside the uniform to
resume the activities of
express the hope that your fondest anticipations
will find expression and satisfaction in peace
May we also congratulate and greet that
great army of splendid men and women of our
profession who for six long years kept the torch
of medical light and leadership shining brightly
throughout the length and breadth of our land.
To all of our far flung family and to those
who are dear to them, may we say, in the
language of Tiny Tim, "God Bless Us Every
The year which has closed will long be remem-
bered in history as the year which saw the
cause of freedom and righteousness crowned
and enshrined while the demon forces of hate
and evil were encircled and crushed,-never,
please God, to raise their slimy heads again.
So mote it be. And what a noble and notable
contribution Medicine made in the long struggle!
Once again, let me say that I consider it a
rare privilege to be permitted, through the
medium of this page, to pay my humble respects
to close upon five thousand Canadian doctors
who put aside all personal desires and risked
their lives in order that men might be free.
.covery would certainly have been made by
Even though this is admitted, the
value of his work is in no way diminished, and
his fame is secure as one of the greatest of
mankind's benefactors during the nineteenth
life, may we
In Association affairs, 1945 had a number of
interesting high lights.
The Annual Meeting in Montreal in June,
with close upon 2,000 persons present, was
indeed the outstanding event
Scientifically and socially, the convention will
long be remnembered as one of the best in our
history; and, to add to the joy of it, the weather
man was kind, keeping the torrid heat under
control while we were assembled.
of the year.
In August of last year, the first much-talked-of
Dominion-Provincial Conference was held in
Ottawa, when a new fiscal deal was offered by
the Dominion to the Provinces.
if our profession is fully conscious of all the
implications of the proposals, particularly the
one dealing with health insurance.
can find that proposal with all of its interesting
details in the September, 1945, Journal.
It is doubtful
back and read it if you haven't already thorough-
ly familiarized yourself with its contents.
held in November.
While no official announce-
ment regarding health insurance emerged from
Provinces asked for more time to study the
health insurance in their own way and in their
own good time.Ottawa apparently offered no
serious objections, so health insurance may not
be very near in any Province" but-and this is
the important thing-Dominion and Provincial
statesmen were agreed that health insurance is
definitely desired in Canada and will surely
We do not know, as this page possesses
neither inside information nor prophetic ability.
However, the main thing is that we, the medical
profession, must know what it is all about and
medical care rather than be misguided and be-
wildered by those who, for various reasons,
would gladly take out of our hands the formu-
lation and direction of policy relating to health
There is much reason for optimism.
ally and provincially, increasing numbers of
our people appear to be familiarizing themselves
with the problems; and, what
earnest attempt has been made to acquaint
Dominion and Provincial Governments
This is all to the good and must
continue and increase.
are we justified in assuming that we are on
it is understood that the
Five years? Ten
is more, an
Then and then only
The year contained
General Secretary which you will forgive me
beautiful valley of Evangeline in Nova Scotia
during the month of October, I completed one
million miles of travel, accumulated in a period
of twenty-seven and one-half years.
I motored through the
As we enter 1946, we are very conscious of
the manifold problems which face a war torn
Canada looks to the medical profession
to do more than care for the health of the people.
Canada looks to our profession for guidance
and help in sane thinking and living.
Canadian medicine, in peace as in war, has
an enviable record to maintain.