JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
I made an unexpected find today, poking around in a February 18961 volume of the probing, somewhat classically-radical and Easternist journal, The Open Court, a Weekly Journal Devoted to the Religion of Science. The photo and article form a very early appearance in the U.S. of the weeks-old Roentgen discovery of the x-ray. The first journal edition in English appears to be 23 January 1896 in Nature (vol 53), and the first in a U.S. journal in Science on 31 January, though that is not illustrated. (The Science article, written by Hugo Muinsterberg of Harvard, notes that this was a good thing for the reassurance of German stature in physics as they had in the last year lost Kundt, Hertz, and von Helmholtz, and now they had Wilhelm Roentgenfor a new placeholder of living greatness.)
A close-up of the 12" tall image
The illustrated article by McCormack, in the Taoist-historico-scientific journal Open Court, shares an example of x-ray photography by H(ermann). Schubert (1848-1911, and who would have his paper on the Rontgen rays translated for the Monist in April) ) of the Physical Laboratory in Hamburg which is very large, more than 12" tall, and by far the largest of these famous photos that I have seen. There is a short discussion on what exactly to call the "photograph", since it really wasn't a photo by general standards, and the term "x-ed" is suggested...I'm not sure when the "X-Ray" as a term for the product of being exposed to x-rays and photographic film was, but it wasn't long after this.) There is a bit of history of the discovery of the x-ray, and a discussion on the idea of chance and discovery in scientific progress.
There would be an enormous wave of publications on the x-ray over the course of the next year--in fact, the Bibliography of X-ray Literature and Research (1896-1897) by Charles Phillips (published in 1906) is 68pp long and finds more than 1500 books and articles published over just two years. Oddly, the Open Court papers are not to be found in the Phillips bibliography, and I'm not sure why.
It seems to me that Open Court publishes on the of the first photographs of an x-ray in a U.S. journal.
McCormack (1865-1932) had an interesting career, translating Lagrange, Weismann, Mach, as well as the photographer and mathematician Hermann Schubert's books on recreational mathematics), and wrote several books in disparate disciplines.
1. Thomas J. McCormack, "The New X-Rays in Photography", in a bound volume of The Open Court, a Weekly Journal Devoted to the Religion of Science, February 6, 1896, no. 441, volume x-6, pp 4799-4801. With a very large photographic image (12x9.25" 31x24cm).
Also appearing in this volume, again by McCormack, "Roentgen's Rays Again", no. 446 vol X-11, March 12, 1896, pp 4483-4844, illustrated with a double-page photographic image.