MiWord, a post on Sunday?!!! Well, I have been very busy lately and fell behind on my blog so I am now playing a little catch-up…
I was waiting in Logan airport for my flight back from a presentation in Boston – what unbelievably crazy traffic in that city – and I was texting my kids with my laptop open and my tablet next to me on the seat when I thought: I feel a little like Jimmy Neutron! I enjoyed watching that show with my kids. Lots of fun. Anyway, that idea of crazy science and the internal structure of the atom as displayed on Jimmy’s t-shirt may be the premise for a great kids show but it also led to the development of MRI. What?!!! You say.
MRI is an imaging technique. Maybe so, but it is particular in that it does not use any classic photographic equipment (film or lenses) or use x-rays as Roentgen did. It simply numerically measures how hydrogen nuclei absorb and release energy in response to particular frequencies. Need a refresher on the structure of an atom? See this post.
Don’t get it? OK, how about you think of this process as a crazy huge tuning fork. If you were to flick a tuning fork of a certain frequency (pitch) other tuning forks of the same frequency close by will pick up energy from the humming tuning fork and emit a sound in turn. Cool.
The nucleus of an atom can absorb energy and then relax by emitting energy in a similar way. Different atoms (or the same atom in different environments) will have different relaxation rates allowing for the identification of the composition of molecules. Ya, maybe a little complicated.
MRI measures how hydrogen nuclei absorb and release energy. Dependent on the location and the environment of the hydrogen atoms the MRI process is able to provide knowledge about the placement of hydrogen atoms in the body and in turn knowledge about the anatomy.
Now for the fun part (see the rules here), using Atom in a sentence by the end of the day:
Serious: Hey Bob, did you know that the atom is the smallest unit that defines the chemical elements and their isotopes?
Less serious: I thought that splitting atoms would produce a large explosion but when I tried using my mom’s perfume “atomizer” it just produced a fine spray and nice smell…
Ok that was a little intense for a Sunday. Watch and listen to Symphony of Science (very cool BBC production) to decompress and I’ll see you in the blogosphere…