Xray Vision


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Chanel Tissot is a thành viên of the Australian Nuclear Association & Women in Nuclear Australia.



CSIRO provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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This is an article from Curious Kids, a series for children. The Conversation is asking kids lớn send in questions they’d like an expert lớn answer. All questions are welcome – serious, weird or wacky!

Dear CSIRO, My name is Finn and I’m eight. I would lượt thích lớn know please if making x-ray vision is possible? Thank you so much for your help. – Finn, age 8, Brisbane.

Hi Finn. Thanks for your question. X-ray vision is not only possible, it already exists! The science is called radiography.

As you know, human eyes don’t have x-ray vision. But we can use radiography machines lớn allow our eyes lớn see inside things the human eye cannot.

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Radiography machines use different types of radiation (such as x-rays, visible light, or microwaves) to look inside objects. Some machines make a photograph of the object, called a radiograph, while others let you watch the object move and change in real time.

To make a simple radiograph using x-rays, for example, you need to lớn shine your x-rays on the object you would lượt thích lớn see through. The x-rays pass right through the air and lighter stuff inside the object but are stopped by heavy or thiông chồng stuff (like bones). On the other side of the object you need a few fancy cameras, called “detectors”. The detectors produce the x-ray image by collecting the x-rays that make it through the object.

A radiograph of a person’s arm, showing the x-ray source (the generator), the object (the man’s arm) và the detectors. Wikitruyền thông media

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There are several radiography machines that you may have used before – such as a medical or dental x-ray machine. If you hurt your hand playing sport, a doctor may use x-rays khổng lồ make a radiograph of your h& to lớn see if you’ve sầu broken a bone. The x-rays pass straight through the soft parts of your hvà but are stopped by the thichồng & strong bones. The doctor uses the radiograph to lớn see if the bones of your hand và fingers are broken.

At some point in your life, you will probably visit an airport. You might have been lớn one already. In the security line at the airport, you put your bag on the conveyor belt & it passes through an x-ray radiography machine. The operator can look right through your suitcase – without even touching it – khổng lồ see what’s inside và make sure there’s nothing dangerous in there. You can then pick up your bag after it comes out of the machine without ever having to lớn open it.

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Baggage x-ray of a backpaông chồng. Can you identify some of the items inside? www.farlabs.edu.au

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What else can you see using radiography? Scientists & engineers have sầu designed powerful radiography machines that can see through objects much more interesting than a suitcase.

You can use these machines to lớn see right through cars & trucks to check what they are carrying. You can see the flow of water or oil through big metal pipes. You can shine x-rays through walls, aeroplane wings, & even nuclear reactors to look for cracks or other problems that the human eye cannot see.

Neutrons, another type of radiation, work differently than x-rays. Neutrons can shine straight through heavy objects like metals but are stopped by lighter objects. This picture is a neutron radiograph showing a soft flower inside a thiông xã & heavy lead box. darpa.mil

Scientists và engineers also use radiography lớn help museums look inside very old objects that are too delicate to lớn touch. This way, they can learn more about the object without breaking it. This has been used khổng lồ see a 2000 year old mummy still inside a coffin, to lớn see inside statues và paintings and lớn kiểm tra whether objects in the museum are real or nhái.

A computed tomography (CT) scan of an ancient Egyptian mummy. British Museum

The catch is – these machines use computers to lớn make x-ray vision, not human eyes. If you believe the world needs Superman-style x-ray vision, become a scientist or engineer and make it happen!

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ConversationEDU with the hashtag #curiouskids, or* Tell us on Facebook


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