The Smartest Advancements in Technology Series: The MRI

What five technologies have made our lives easier, better, and more efficient? Hard to choose, right? Well, inspired by the next tech advancement, Intel smart TV, we've done it for you. Last week we brought you the telescope. Today: the life-saving MRI.

Magnetic resonance imaging—better known as the MRI—has advanced what we know about the fallible vessel we call the human body. Isidor Rabi first observed nuclear magnetic resonance (generally understood to be the key influence in developing MRIs) in 1938 and was later awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his research on the subject. Considerably later, in 1970, Raymond Damadian, a doctor and research scientist, discovered the basis for using MRIs as a method of detecting cancer. He realized that different kinds of tissue release signals that vary in length, and that cancerous tissue emits signals that last longer than non-cancerous tissue, thus paving the way for modern science to quickly detect whats going on in our insides.

Besides saving lives, we now use MRI technology for a number of practical purposes. Check out our favorite uses below:

MRI as Justice Seeker

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party? Shh! Don't answer that! Those with criminal proclivities beware: Big Brother can now read your mind. Well, sort of. In a recent murder trial, a brain scan was offered up by the defense as proof that a Chicago man was psychopathic and thus not in control of his actions.


MRI as Muse

Some feel that electronic music sounds like water dripping and flatulence. Musician and DJ Mira Calix thinks it should sound like jet engines and MRIs. So, using noises emitted from an MRI, she collaborated with prominent neuroscientist Professor Vincent Walsh to develop a piece of music for an electro-string quartet.


MRI as Fancy Brain Camera


This hyper-vibrant 3D brain imaging takes data from MRI scans and applies to it a new process that enables the viewer to see tens of thousands of microscopic neural channels. The resulting images help doctors more deeply understand brain function—and look like they belong in a 1997 raver-hat catalog.


MRI as a Way to Disarm a Cop

There's a reason your technician tells you to not wear any metal into the MRI room: It's because MRIs are essentially giant magnets! Chairs, jewelery, braces—the mighty MRI wants to know them all. Maybe someone should have informed this police officer about a magnet's taste for steel before she brought her gun close to the hungry machine.


MRI as Sommelier


Need a way to detect if that '61 Bordeaux is still good? A New Jersey wine connoisseur has developed a machine that detects the level of acetic acid (the thing that makes your wine oxidize and thus go bad) in unopened bottles, using MRI technology. Ooh la la.

Where would humankind be without the MRI? And we'll be asking ourselves that same question about Intel smart TV sooner than later, because the combination of Internet and television is surely the next in line in the Smartest Advancements in Technology all-time rankings.


Tune in later this week to see what the next revolutionary and utter indispensable item in the Smartest Advancements in Technology Series is. Hint: Every bodega has one.

And click here to find out more about Intel smart TV: where Internet meets television.


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