Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1932)
Röntgen visited a Technical School in Utrecht but failed the final exam. Rumour has it that this was due to the dislike of a teacher. However, as a result he could not take part in the university exams and enrolled at Utrecht University as a non-examination student in January 1865. When he heard the Polytechnic in Zurich allowed student without a grammar school diploma he applied with the help of a testimonial from his professor Buys Ballot. Röntgen obtained his PhD in 1869. In 1888 Utrecht University asked Röntgen to succeed the excellent Buys Ballot but Röntgen refused and stayed in Germany holding chairs in Strasbourg, Giessen, Würzburg and Munich.
As a scientist, Röntgen focused first on gasses and liquids (heat and pressure). He also studied the electric characteristics of crystals. In 1895 he, like many of his colleagues, did research into cathode rays and discovered his X-rays - which are much more intense than cathode rays - by the fluorescence of crystals of barium platinum cyanide. For this he received the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901.
He published his findings in 1895 in a brief publication 'About a new kind of radiation'. The exciting results of his systematic research first were thought to be fairy tales until the publication of the first X-ray photographs. The photos were soon used, if even on fun fairs and warehouse attractions, but Röntgen never received anything for them. He wrote 'I am a believer of the idea that - in accordance with a good tradition of science - inventions and discoveries must benefit society at large and are not to be reserved for individuals through patents, licences and such'.