The identity of x-rays was initially mysterious, their connotations
including morbidity and the otherworldly. Gradually they became
routine, finding a place in the high-energy end of the electromagnetic
spectrum. Radiologists established a niche in hospitals, contributing
to the industrialization of health care. Control of x-ray tube output
was improved while an infrastructure enforcing radiation protection
accompanied the continued growth of the field. X-ray diffraction
proved a powerful tool with which to examine substances at the atomic
scale. Since 1950, x-ray researchers have taken advantage of synchrotrons'
copious production of continuous x-ray spectra, and the marriage
of x-rays with electronics has led to a cornucopia of cheap and
highly efficient analytical tools.