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MRIs Getting Closer to Frog Levitation

MRIs Getting Closer to Frog Levitation

Tech giant GE is ushering in the new line of MRIs, and they are 140,000 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field. They will be like spinning 1,400 refrigerator magnets around a patient.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (we dropped the “nuclear” because it scares people) works by applying a moving magnetic field at the resonant frequency of the body’s hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms get excited (in a physics way, not a happy way) and emit radio signals that we then detect and transform into detailed images.

The stronger magnetic field we create, the better images we can get. According to GE, their newly developed MRIs can generate 7-Teslas—five times stronger than most MRIs in hospitals and pretty close to the 8-Teslas that the magnets in the Large Hadron Collider can produce.

As you can see from the image above, better magnets mean better images, which could lead to better diagnoses. Parkinson’s disease, for example, doesn’t have any discernible markers that doctors can see in an MRI. GE claims that this might change with stronger magnets able to see finer details.

But producing that much magnetic energy isn’t easy. A 7-Tesla magnet is 11-feet long and a monstrous 80,000 pounds. It’s filled with literally miles of wire, needs to be cooled to -450 degrees Fahrenheit with 10,000 liters of liquid nitrogen over two weeks, and takes a good 40 hours to charge. It needs to be so cold because MRIs take advantage of superconductivity—when electrons flow with almost no resistance at nearly absolute-zero temperatures. These are serious machines.

When you get to 10-Teslas, it may not have a practical application for MRIs, but magnetic fields strong enough to interact on an atomic level can float a frog. So there’s that.

HT: GE, io9

IMAGES: GE

Comments

  1. grim says:

    Devilry! Witchcraft! And you know what the Good Book says thou shall not suffer!
    or
    The gov’t has been trying to read my mind all along, steal my thoughts; I KNEW IT! Well you won’t get it, I’ve got my tin foil hat!

  2. Michael says:

    Why are you worried about scaring people with the word nuclear?  Nuclear Medicine is an entire wing of most hospitals.  Seems weird for this site to pander.

    • grim says:

      For reasons like my first comments. I don’t think it’s so much as pandering, but more like lampooning the masses…. the dirty, ignorant masses.

  3. Glenn says:

    Bit of nerdrage here. It took them 16 Teslas in order to levitate the frog. 
    I know this because the experiment took place in my hometown and I actually spoke to someone to took part in it a couple years ago. 
    At the time they still used CRT monitors and regular harddrives in their computers.  That didn’t always end very well when you have a magnet THAT powerful, even if you have it isolated and the computers are on another floor.

  4. znmeb says:

    “cooled to -450 degrees Fahrenheit with 10,000 liters of liquid nitrogen”

    Shouldn’t that be liquid helium?