Brattleboro Retreat X-Ray 1899


Remarkable Exhibition at the Brattleboro Retreat.


The Internal Mechanism of the Human Body Made Visible by a Static Machine, Crookes Tube and Fluoroscope.


It was the privilege of half a dozen persons to assemble in the office of the Brattleboro Retreat Wednesday evening to witness a demonstration of a Ranney Wimshurst Holtz static machine and X-ray attachment, which has recently been bought by the Retreat for use in the treatment of muscular, nervous and other affections. Dr. Henry E. Waite of New York city, president and general manager of the Waite & Bartlett manufacturing company and the inventor of the machine, was present to conduct the demonstration.


The occasion was one long to be remembered by all present. The machine, which is one of the larger sizes made by Waite & Bartlett, who, by the way, are the manufacturers of the largest static machine in the world, is enclosed in an oak frame with glass panels, and it is about five feet high by six feet long and about 2½ feet deep. Its motive power is a water motor located in the basement of the building. The revolving of 10 circular glass plates two feet or more in diameter generates electricity, which is conducted to the positive and negative poles in front of the machine, thereby establishing a circuit.


After the machine was started a Crookes tube was placed in front of it, the poles were separated far enough to break the circuit, and wires, running from the poles, were connected with the ends of the tube causing the electric current to pass through the tube. The Crookes tube is made of glass and is best described by comparing it with a large soap bubble. The tube is almost a vacuum.


As the electric current passed through the tube a brilliant green light was created. This was the X-ray. Dr. Waite then handed a Bario platinum fluoroscope to each of the party, holding his hand between the fluoroscope and the X-ray. The bones of his hand were distinctly visible, much more so than the flesh. One of the party then stood in front of the X-ray while the others looked through his head, saw his jaws open and close, counted his ribs, saw his heart beat, etc.


The fluoroscope was then placed against his shoulder and elbow joints and the movement of the bones was seen. Dr. Waite held a jack-knife in his clenched fist and it could be seen even more clearly than the bones. He then held his foot before the X-ray, showing not only the bones of his foot but the nails in the heel of his shoe.


Photographer John C. Howe, who was present, had with him some sensitive plates, and two exposures were made. A plate was placed on a table beneath the X-ray and the doctor placed his hand upon the plate-holder without removing the slide. The current was turned on for 45 seconds. Absolutely no sensation was felt, but when the plate was developed a perfect negative of the hand and bones was the result.


After this exhibition the X-ray apparatus was removed and a pyrotechnical display was made by the use of the detachable Leyden jars. The display consisted of rapid flashes of electricity, each flash being accompanied by a loud report, which put thunder and lightning "in the shade."


An insulated chair was then placed upon the floor and while the electrical current was passing through it members of the party were invited to sit in it. As they did so their hair rose on end and a delightful electrical breeze was felt. As the lights were turned off halos could be seen around the persons' heads and electric sparks stood on the tip of each hair, reminding one of Saint Elmo's fire. One man, who was bald, said the sensation was like rain drops falling on his head. One of the most interesting scenes was when a woman with disheveled hair sat in the chair. Her hair immediately stood out straight from her head for a distance of two feet in all directions.


The purchase of this machine was made to help carry out a plan of the Retreat management to equip its office with the latest and most improved appliances for curing disease. The office was previously equipped with valuable electrical devices, but they covered fields essentially different in character from that which will be attempted by the new machine. Many of the inmates suffering with sciatica, neuralgia, lumbago and kindred affections, as well as persons not connected with the institution, have already been benefited by it.


Vermont Phoenix, July 14, 1899.


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