Ivan Puluj

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Ivan Puluj
Іван Пулюй.jpg
Born 2 February 1845
Hrymayliv, Austrian Empire (present-day Ukraine)
Died 31 January 1918(1918-01-31) (aged 72)
Prague, Austria-Hungary (present-day Czech republic)
Nationality Ukrainian
Fields Physicist
Institutions Czech Technical University in Prague
Alma mater University of Vienna
University of Strasbourg
Doctoral advisor August Kundt
Known for X rays

Ivan Pavlovich Puluj (Ukrainian: Іва́н Па́влович Пулю́й; German: Johann Puluj; 2 February 1845 – 31 January 1918) was a Ukrainian physicist and inventor, who has been championed as an early developer of the use of X-rays for medical imaging. His contributions were largely neglected until the end of the 20th century.


Ivan Puluj graduated with honors from Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna (1869), later also from the Department of Philosophy (1872). In 1876 Pulyui finished his doctorate on internal friction in gases at the University of Strasbourg under supervision of August Kundt. Puluj taught at the Navy academy in Fiume (Rijeka, Croatia) (1874–1876), University of Vienna (1874–1884) and the German part of the Higher Technical School in Prague (1884–1916). He served as the rector of the Higher Technical School in Prague (German part) in 1888–1889. Puluj also worked as a state adviser on electrical engineering for Bohemian and Moravian local governments.

In addition he completed a translation of the Bible into the Ukrainian language.[1][2]

Scientific contribution[edit]

Cathode ray tube #12, Ivan Puluj design, ca 1896
Puluj's apparatus for determining the mechanical equivalent of heat

Puluj did heavy research into cathode rays, publishing several papers about those rays between 1880 and 1882. In 1881 as a result of experiments into what he called cold light Prof. Puluj developed the Puluj lamp;[3] it was awarded the Silver Medal at the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Paris. Throughout the world, it has become known as the "lamp of Puluj" and even it was mass-produced for some time. This device was the first X-ray tube. With that device Puluj took a picture of a broken hand of a 13-year-old boy, a picture of his daughter's hand with a pin that lay beneath it, as well as a picture of the skeleton of a stillborn child. The pictures had a very good resolution. Those pictures Prof. Puluj showed to his students at lectures.

Wilhelm Röntgen discovered the X-rays and published his experiments 14 years later. When Puluj learned of the Röntgen's publication, he was confused and many times repeated: "This is my lamp!" (Röntgen visited the laboratory of Prof. Puluj and the latter presented Röntgen one of his lamps with which Röntgen then conducted his experiments and obtained pictures with rather a bad resolution). Thus Iwan Puluj was the first who worked with X-Rays and used them for medical diagnostics.[4]

Puluj published his results in a scientific paper, Luminous Electrical Matter and the Fourth State of Matter in the Notes of the Austrian Imperial Academy of Sciences (1880–1883), but expressed his ideas in an obscure manner using obsolete terminology. Puluj did gain some recognition when the work was translated and published as a book by the Royal Society in the UK.[5]

Puluj made many other discoveries as well. He is particularly noted[citation needed] for inventing a device for determining the mechanical equivalent of heat that was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1878. Puluj also participated in opening of several power plants in Austria-Hungary.[6]

Quotes about Puluj[edit]

  • "World history has never been just to certain individuals or certain nations. Small nations and their achievements are often neglected while the accomplishments of large nations are at times exaggerated."
    • Slavko Bokshan, a Serbian scientist who worked in the same department as Puluj and Roentgen


Ukrainian Postal stamp. 150 years born Ivan Puluj, 1995

Pulyui's publications and first images (1895)[edit]

  • Strahlende Elektrodenmaterie //Wiener Berichte I. – 1880. – 81. – pp. 864–923; II. – 1881. – 83. – pp. 402–420; III. 1881. – 83. – pp. 693–708; IV. – 1882. – 85. – pp. 871–881.
  • Strahlende Elektrodenmaterie und der sogenannte vierte Aggregatzustand' – Wien; Verlag Carl Gerold Sohn, 1883.
  • Radiant Elektrode Matter and the so Called Fourth State. -London: Physical Memoirs, 1889. – Vol. l, Pt.2. – pp. 233–331.
  • Über die Entstehung der Röntgenstrahlen und ihre photographische Wirkung// Wiener Berichte II Abt. 1896. – 105. – pp. 228–238.

Select Works[edit]

  • Puluj, H. J. (1875). On a lecture-room apparatus for the determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat. Taylor and Francis.
  • Puluj, J., Pulyui, I., Пулюй, И. П., & Пулюй, І. П. (1876). Über die Abhängigkeit der Reibung der Gase von der Temperatur. (About the dependence of the friction of the gases on the temperature).
  • Puluj, J. (1876). Ueber einen Schulapparat zur Bestimmung des mechanischen Wärmeaequivalentes. Annalen der Physik. 233(3): 437-446. (Over a school apparatus for determining the mechanical Wärmeaequivalentes).
  • Puluj, J. (1876). Beitrag zur Bestimmung des mechanischen Wärmeaequivalentes. Annalen der Physik. 233(4): 649-656. (Contribution to the determination of the mechanical Wärmeaequivalentes).
  • Puluj, J. (1877). Ueber die Abhängigkeit der Reibung der Gase von der Temperatur. Annalen der Physik. 237(6): 296-310.
  • Puluj, J. (1877). On the diffusion of vapours through clay cells. Taylor and Francis.
  • Puluj, J. (1878). On the friction of vapours. Taylor and Francis.
  • Puluj, J. (1879). On the radiometer. Taylor and Francis.
  • Crookes, W., & Puluj, J. (1880). ANNALEN DER PHYSIK. Phil. Trans. 1: 152-3879. (Annals of Physics).
  • Puluj, J., & Glaser, G. (1880). The Fourth State of Matter. A Refutation. Science. 58-59.
  • Puluj, J. (1883). Strahlende Elektroden-Materie und der sogenannte vierte Aggregatzustand. (Radiant electrode material and the so-called fourth state).
  • Puluj, J. (1887). Objective Darstellung der wahren Gestalt einer schwingenden Saite. Annalen der Physik: 267(8): 1033-1035. (Objective presentation of the true form of a vibrating string).
  • Puluj, J. (1888). Apparatus for illustrating the fall of bodies in a vacuum. Taylor and Francis.
  • Puluj, J. (1888). Fallapparat. Annalen der Physik. 269(3): 575-576.
  • Puluj, J. (1890). On a telethermometer. Taylor and Francis.
  • Puluj, H. (1895). On Kathode Rays. Proceedings of the Physical Society of London. 14(1): 178.

Support of Ukrainian culture[edit]

Puluj is also known for his contribution in promoting Ukrainian culture. He actively supported opening of a Ukrainian university in Lviv and published articles to support Ukrainian language. Together with P. Kulish and I. Nechuy-Levytsky he translated Gospels and Psalter into Ukrainian.[7] Being a professor Puluj organized scholarships for Ukrainian students in Austria-Hungary.


  1. ^ Ivan Pul'uj. TNTU.edu.ua. Retrieved on 8 May 2014.
  2. ^ Комментарии. Risu.org.ua. Retrieved on 8 May 2014.[dead link]
  3. ^ Puluj-Röhre, 1870. uibk.ac.at
  4. ^ Gaida, Roman; et al. (1997). "Ukrainian Physicist Contributes to the Discovery of X-Rays". Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  5. ^ Kulynyak, Danylo (9 July 2000). "Ivan Pului, the discoverer of X-rays". Ukrainian Weekly. Parsippany, NJ: Ukrainian National Association, Inc. 68 (23): 6. 
  6. ^ Czech language biographical article in the journal of the Czech Technical University (2005, No 2, p. 39-40) mentions details and problems Pulyui met during the construction of early power plants in the Czech lands.
  7. ^ Ivan Pulyui (реферат). Ukrreferat.com. Retrieved on 8 May 2014.


  • R. Gajda, R. Plazko: Johann Puluj: Rätsel des universalen Talents. EuroWelt-Verlag, Lwiw 2001, ISBN 966-7343-04-9
  • S. Nahorniak, M. Medyukh: Physical-technical ideas of Ivan Pul'uj. Dschura, Ternopil 1999, ISBN 966-7497-34-8

External links[edit]