MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Undeserved Nobel Prizes


Tomography, MRI, Nobel prize fraud and a blast of aether from the past.

Contained in the information below is strong evidence of major and invaluable contributions by those who are considered by scientists to be pseudo-scientific or in some cases even beyond the pale. We also have additional evidence that ‘science’ is again attempting to minimize the importance of the work of those excluded by crediting it to a few chosen academics. Once again, we see the downgrading of invention, imagination and achievement for the sole purpose of the aggrandisement of academe. Questions arise such as, how is someone able to receive a Nobel Prize while the patent-holder gets no mention? Why are scientific reputations of those who choose to live by a religious or spiritual philosophy attacked? Why is a decades-old theory and technology presented as if it were new?

We live with the illusion that thanks to science, new and wonderful advances are being made, when they are often very old technology. These are ideas that have been worked on cosmetically to look new, so as to astound and blind with science. New and original technology with a history that starts after the 1930’s is very hard to find and MRI and TSA scanners are no exception. I’ve been told by a scientist, in answer to the above criticism, that just about everything has a long period of evolutionary development. This may be true, but why are these things presented as being new and why hand-out Nobel prizes to those who did not discover, invent them or achieve any significant development?

MRI De-mystifier
The basic technology of MRI is simple: A coil carrying a high frequency current is used to magnetically excite the atomic nuclei in a material object like for example a human body and a second coil is used to detect the magnetic emissions from the excited atoms.
Other coils and their magnetic fields are used to direct and give depth to the moving magnetic field in the required area. The resulting signal, modulated by variations in the body composition, is detected and then processed by a computer to become numbers or a computer image in the form of slices cut through the body.

Joseph Larmor

Joseph Larmor, NMR and Aether Theory.
Theoretically, MRI can be traced back to Sir Joseph Larmor 1857 -1942, who’s most influential work was ‘Aether and Matter’, a now academically debunked physics book published in 1900. MRI is yet another example of ether theory technology, pre-relativity, pre 1930’s, revisited and used in today’s technology.

Wiki: “Larmor proposed that the aether could be represented as a homogeneous fluid medium which was perfectly incompressible and elastic. Larmor believed the aether was separate from matter. He united Lord Kelvin’s model of spinning gyrostats (e.g., vortexes) with this own theory.” 1 Just as did many other scientists of the day.”Larmor, an Irish physicist, the first to calculate the rate at which energy is radiated by an accelerated electron, and the first to explain the splitting of spectrum lines by a magnetic field. His theories were based on the belief that matter consists entirely of electric particles moving in the ether.” 2
His work is the foundation on which stands NMR, that became MRI.
So many technological discoveries have their origin during the time when the old ether theory was dominant that one wonders why it was rejected and why it is not revived for the sake of modern technological progress? The answer is that it’s rich vein of ideas are accessed by the back door and presented as new ideas.

“This phenomenon was termed NMR as follows:
“Nuclear” as only the nuclei of certain atoms reacted in that way;
“Magnetic” as a magnetic field was required;
“Resonance” because of the direct frequency dependence of the magnetic and radio-frequency fields.
MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging is the same thing with added computer imaging.”

Edward Mills Purcell says:
“Edward Mills Purcell is credited with the discovery of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) in 1945.” 3
He was the re-discoverer.

Edward Mills Purcell
Edward Mills Purcell

Wiki: “In December 1946, he (Purcell) discovered nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) with his colleagues Pound and Torrey. NMR provides scientists with an elegant and precise way of determining chemical structure and properties of materials, and is widely used in physics and chemistry. It also is the basis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), one of the most important medical advances of the 20th century. For his discovery of NMR, Purcell shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in physics with Felix Bloch of Stanford University.” 4 His (Purcell’s) scientific achievements included being the first scientist to detect radio emissions originating in the hydrogen of galaxies (This is clearly untrue, see Radio Astronomy) and his investigations into solid-state physics are still considered pioneering.
(His rise to scientific sainthood may be due to) An Adviser to Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, Purcell earned multiple honours for his scientific discoveries. His books are still considered required reading for students pursuing degrees in science and medicine….
…How often do scientists reach similar conclusions despite never having collaborated in the laboratory or by sharing their independent research findings with each other? More often than one might think. While both Felix Bloch and Purcell attended and worked at Harvard University, their paths crossed only in terms of reputation until the two scientific giants stood on an Oslo stage in 1952 to accept their Nobel Prizes for Physics.” 5
I would guess that they both read Joseph Larmor’s work? Purcell again …” His own scientific interests more and more led him in the direction of what we now call solid state physics. He was interested generally in crystals, the physics of crystals, and that sort of thing; and of course later on he developed the really very well known and very important solid state research laboratory that did work on semi-conductors during World War II. The trouble with the Lark was he was very slow to write things up and publish them. I think perhaps he didn’t get as much credit as he might have for his work on germanium in the middle ’40s prior to the transistor.” 6

The invention that scientists are good at is inventing heroes. Purcell is credited here with a part in transistor development because he worked with germanium, but no supporting evidence. His career seems to depend on claiming credit for other peoples work. We have already encountered him in the chapter on radio astronomy and found his reputation and prior achievements to have been grossly exaggerated.

bloch_and_purcellFelix Bloch
Wiki: “After the war he concentrated on investigations into nuclear induction and nuclear magnetic resonance, which are the underlying principles of MRI. In 1946 he proposed the Bloch equations which determine the time evolution of nuclear magnetization. (How long it takes to magnetise an atom.) He and Edward Mills Purcell were awarded the 1952 Nobel Prize for “their development of new ways and methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements.” In 1954–1955, he served for one year as the first Director-General of CERN. In 1961, he was made Max Stein Professor of Physics at Stanford University.” 7 “Felix Bloch, working at Stanford University, and Edward Purcell, from Harvard University, found that when certain nuclei were placed in a magnetic field they absorbed energy in the radio frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum, and re-emitted this energy when the nuclei transferred to their original state. The strength of the magnetic field and the radio frequency matched each other as earlier demonstrated by Sir Joseph Larmor and is known as the Larmor relationship (i.e., the angular frequency of precession of the nuclear spins being proportional to the strength of the magnetic field)… …With this discovery NMR spectroscopy was born and soon became an important analytical method in the study of the composition of chemical compounds. For this discovery (originally derived from ether theory by Larmor) Bloch and Purcell were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1952.” 8

Raymond Damadian

Raymond Damadian
Raymond Damadian and his scanner. Note the similarity to modern MRI scanners

Wiki: “The first medical application of NMR came in 1971 when Raymond Damadian discovered that some tumours in mice showed raised relaxation times when compared to normal tissues in vitro. This was a ground breaking discovery that would lead to the exciting new way of imaging the human body. The tissues with disease would show up starkly different from healthy ones; an accomplishment that X-ray and ultrasound technology could not achieve.” 9

Wiki: “Some consider Damadian to be a controversial figure in academic circles, not least for his exuberant behaviour at conferences. He is also fundamentalist Christian and a young earth creationist and a member of the ‘Technical Advisory Board’ of the Institute for Creation Research.”
(Not the kind of background that would endear him to a modern physicist, creationist being a word applied by scientists to anyone who disagrees with scientific dogma. If you disagree with anything said by a scientist you must be a creationist, ‘because science and religion are the only sources of opinion’… There is a deep-seated disregard for logic here. Damadian, by contrast was quite proud of the fact.)

“Philosopher Michael Ruse writing for the Metanexus Institute suggested that Damadian might have been denied a Nobel Prize because of his creationist views, saying”: “I cringe at the thought that Raymond Damadian was refused his just honour because of his religious beliefs. Having silly ideas in one field is no good reason to deny merit for great ideas in another field. Apart from the fact that this time, the Creation Scientists will think that there is good reason to think that they are the objects of unfair treatment at the hands of the scientific community. M. Ruse” 10

Us poor non-scientific plebs are not supposed to know the rhyme or reason behind the awarding of Nobel prizes, but what is surprising is that philosopher Michael Ruse is not aware of the ‘counterintuitive’ that allows science to do and say whatever it likes. “(Damadian) filed his idea for using magnetic resonance imaging as a tool for medical diagnosis with the U.S. Patent Office, entitled “Apparatus and Method for Detecting Cancer in Tissue.” A patent was granted in 1974, it was the world’s first patent issued in the field of MRI. By 1977, Dr. Damadian completed construction of the first whole-body MRI scanner, which he dubbed the “Indomitable.”” 11

Damadian’s NMR Scanner patent US 3789832 A in 1974 “Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue.”

Note: The 1901 work of Joseph Larmor and the 1974 work of Raymond Damadian is now quietly forgotten because one was born from a debunked aether theory and the other is the victim of prejudice because of his alternative religious philosophy.

Herman Carr
Wiki: Herman Y. Carr “…pioneered the NMR gradient technique and demonstrated rudimentary MRI imaging in the 1950s. The Nobel prize winners had almost certainly seen Carr’s work, but did not cite it. Consequently, the prize committee was very likely unaware of Carr’s discoveries, a situation likely abetted by Damadian’s campaign… …The 2003 prize was awarded to Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield “for their discoveries concerning magnetic resonance imaging” (MRI).” 12

Wiki: “In 2003 the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Paul C. Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield for their work on MRI. There was some controversy when Carr was not awarded the prize jointly with Lauterbur and Mansfield…. …Ten years before the Nobel announcement, (Herman) Carr wrote to Physics Today noting that both his 1952 demonstration of use of magnetic gradients for spatial localization and his actual demonstration of 1-D “imaging” had been overlooked by the radiologist Felix Wehrli in a 1992 article… …As a professed pacifist he served on the National General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church where he was a representative to Russia during glasnost promoting Christianity, justice and world peace.”13

Again someone with an unscientific Christian philosophy that included an active contribution to world peace is excluded contrary to the philosophy of Nobel. I see a trend.

A rule: For a successful career in science no special ability is required, just a total denial of anything religious, spiritual or supernatural. 14

Isidor Isaac Rabi “Interestingly, Dr Isidor Rabi, an American physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944 for his invention of the atomic and molecular beam magnetic resonance method of observing atomic spectra, came across the NMR experiment in the late 1930’s but considered it to be an artefact of his apparatus and disregarded its importance.” 15
Why mention something he didn’t do?
According to Wiki: “In 1930 Rabi conducted investigations into the nature of the force binding protons to atomic nuclei. This research eventually led to the creation of the molecular-beam magnetic-resonance detection method, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944.” 16
“Molecular beam magnetic resonance method of observing atomic spectra” or looking at a radio frequency spectrum rather than a rainbow of colours in the optical spectrum.

So, he got the Nobel prize for something he considered to be an artefact of his apparatus and disregarded – or, what he disregarded led to “the creation of the molecular-beam magnetic-resonance detection method, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944.”
Rabi’s work was in theoretical atomic physics and any practical application such as MRI would not have appealed to him. “Rabi’s technique was based on the resonance principle first described by Irish physicist Joseph Larmor, and it enabled more precise measurements of nuclear magnetic moments than had ever been previously possible. Rabi’s method was later independently improved upon by physicists Edward Purcell and Felix Bloch, whose work on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) garnered them the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics and laid the foundations for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).” 17

Both Rabi’s work (if he ever did any) and that of Purcell and Bloch were based entirely upon Joseph Larmor’s earlier ether-based theories and despite the thorough debunking campaign that elevated Albert Einstein to genius status, they continue to be used as if they are new physics.

6 October 2003
Paul C Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield “The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute has today decided to award The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2003 jointly to Paul C Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield for their “discoveries” concerning “magnetic resonance imaging” 18

It’s difficult to assess the contribution of Lauterbur and Mansfield apart from the advantage of more modern and faster computers. The Nobel Prize selection committee seems not to understand the principle behind MRI or the actual work involved. It seems in this instance to have elevated the marketing of an idea, not to mention a few reputations, above the actual work and innovative ideas involved. This is a little paradoxical as academic science, personified by Lauterbur and Mansfield, is supposed to be the wellspring of new ideas.

Wiki: “Damadian said that credit should go to “me, and then Lauterbur,” and Lauterbur felt that only he should get credit. In 1997 the National Academy of Sciences commissioned a time-line of MRI milestones, and four of the 12 in an initial draft were attributed to Damadian. At the final publication in 2001, longer than any other publication in the series had ever been taken, none of the milestones were attributed to Damadian. The text said that Damadian’s methods had “not proved clinically reliable in detecting or diagnosing cancer.”[10] After Damadian’s lawyers sent the NAS a threatening letter, the text on the NAS website was revised, but not to Damadian’s satisfaction. Damadian said in 2002, “If I had not been born, would MRI have existed? I don’t think so. If Lauterbur had not been born? I would have gotten there. Eventually.” 19

The Lancet
The Nobel prize for MRI: a wonderful discovery and a sad controversy
Paul Dreizen,
In reporting this year’s Nobel prize for physiology or medicine to Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield for work leading to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Stephen Pincock (Oct 11, p 1203)1 alludes to the puzzling absence of Raymond Damadian—an MD scientist at State University of New York Downstate Medical Center—from the prize and notes that the reason for his absence is now clear. But we see through a glass darkly: the real answer is murkier than ever.
The discovery of MRI in medicine comprised two steps. First was Damadian’s report in 1971 of differences in tissue proton relaxation among normal tissues and between normal and cancer tissues, and proposal of external nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanning of live human beings.2 Second came the development of imaging methods during 1972—80. The first methods were devised by Lauterbur—who reconstructed two-dimensional images using magnetic field gradients, imaging two capillary tubes in water3—and by Damadian, who registered a patent in 1972. During 1977—78, and using a video-like field-focusing method with a human-sized superconducting magnet built in his laboratory, Damadian and his students obtained the first whole-body MR images, including those of the chest and abdomen in healthy people and in patients with cancers.4 In 1974, Mansfield had devised a faster pulsed-sequence method which did not rely on Lauterbur’s reconstruction technique.
Lauterbur, Mansfield, and Damadian’s methods were supplanted by spin-warp imaging, a gradient method developed in 1980. Spin-warp combines phase-encoding with the two-dimensional Fourier MR concept of Richard Ernst, who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1991.

5 Both steps are essential to medical MRI. In key papers, Ernst 5 cites Lauterbur,3 Damadian,2 and Mansfield; the spin-warp paper cites Ernst 5 and Damadian.2 For all imaging methods, tissue proton relaxation and density differences account for the contrasts and anatomic detail unique to MRI. This fact led the US High Court of Patents and Supreme Court in 1997 to uphold Damadian’s 1972 patent.

That Damadian, Lauterbur, and Mansfield made important contributions in launching medical MRI seems unambiguous. Why, then, did the Nobel prize recognise two scientists whose contributions involved imaging techniques alone, but exclude the third scientist who conceived of whole-body NMR scanning, discovered tissue proton relaxation differences crucial to MRI’s genesis and use, and achieved the first human whole-body MR images? This question is compounded by Alfred Nobel’s will, which mandates that the physiology or medicine prize be awarded for the most important discovery; the physics and chemistry prizes include important methods. This year’s physiology or medicine prize seems to have ignored the fundamental biomedical discoveries on which imaging methods are based.

Unfortunately the canon of scientific recognition might be abandon(d)ed in the real world. There is disciplinary loyalty within the NMR community, with aspersions cast about Damadian as a physician whose early contributions were inconsequential. The main controversy involves Lauterbur’s claim of exclusive primacy in the discovery of medical MRI. Although Damadian’s work directly led to Lauterbur’s, this fact was not acknowledged by Lauterbur until years later, and only after acerbic public complaints by Damadian.

Also, use of field gradients for linear spatial localisation, fundamental to gradient imaging methods, was discovered by Robert Gabillard and independently by Herman Carr and Edwin Purcell in 1952, and described in classic NMR textbooks. This previous work was never acknowledged by Lauterbur, despite published reminders by Carr and others.
It is sad that this important scientific discovery with direct human benefit is marred by controversy, and sadder yet that the Nobel award has exacerbated rather than settle an unnecessary controversy.” 20 “In 1975,(Nobel Laureate) Richard Ernst introduced 2D NMR using phase and frequency encoding, and the Fourier Transform. Instead of Paul Lauterbur’s back-projection, he timely switched magnetic field gradients (‘NMR Fourier Zeugmatography’). [This basic reconstruction method is the basis of current MRI techniques.] ” 21 Almost thirty years before the 2003 Nobel Prize was awarded.

Nature Journal: someone else jumps on the band-wagon “In 1990, however, Seiji Ogawa and colleagues published a series of breakthroughs that transformed MRI into a non-invasive and relatively inexpensive means of revealing physiological activity in the brain, sparking a revolution in the study of brain and behaviour.” 22

In the best tradition of a Hollywood drama the above would deserve an Oscar, but not a Nobel, surely? Yet more synthetically manufactured, scientific, superstars are born, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of another’s hard work and reputation. The award of a Nobel Prize to a chemist and a physicist for a computer imaging application stretches credulity to its outermost limits. This kind of work is usually done by engineers, but there seems to be no mention of anyone but the academic scientists. Not mentioned are the all-important MRI electronics and the computer programming involved and who were the designers, developers and inventors?

Imaging technology was already available at the time of Lauterbur and Mansfield’s work and was applied to MRI just as it was to earlier tomography as in the case of earlier X-ray, PET scans etc. A large part of the real story of MRI is, no doubt, missing and may surface at sometime in the future.

Computer Imaging
William H. Oldendorf
William Henry Oldendorf (March 27, 1925 – December 14, 1992) was an American neurologist, physician, researcher, medical pioneer, founding member of the American Society for Neuroimaging (ASN), and originator of the technique of computed tomography.

Wiki: In 1959, Oldendorf conceived an idea for “scanning a head through a transmitted beam of X-rays, and being able to reconstruct the radiodensity patterns of a plane through the head” by watching an engineer who was working on an automated apparatus to reject frostbitten fruit by detecting dehydrated portions. Not until 1961 did he complete a working prototype of his idea, apply (for $1700) for a patent on his idea, and publish an article detailing the work. Ingeniously, by using materials found in his home (such as his son’s toy train, a phonograph turntable, and an alarm clock motor), Oldendorf demonstrated a method of producing cross-sectional images of soft tissue by back-projection and reconstruction. In his landmark paper, also published in 1961, he described the basic concept later used by Allan McLeod Cormack to develop the mathematics behind computerized tomography, though Prof. Cormack was unaware of Oldendorf’s work. In October, 1963 Oldendorf finally received a U.S. patent for a “radiant energy apparatus for investigating selected areas of interior objects obscured by dense material,”. This work was recognized by Godfrey Hounsfield as the only other attempt at tomographic reconstruction, and, indeed, formed the basis of much of his Nobel prize-winning work. The prototype developed by Dr. Oldendorf, however, did not lead to the development of the first industrial CAT scanning device. When suggested to a leading X-ray manufacturer of the time, the president of the company retorted,
“ Even if it could be made to work as you suggest, we cannot imagine a significant market for such an expensive apparatus which would do nothing but make a radiographic cross-section of a head. ”

Faced with this reaction, Oldendorf “turned his attention to other scientific work and heard nothing further about the idea until 1972.”

However, his idea was a fundamental discovery which also led to MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and other imaging techniques. Once these techniques became widely accepted, Dr. Oldendorf, along with William Markley McKinney, MD (1930–2003) were instrumental in promoting the use of Computed Tomography among neurologists to help decrease the use of superfluous and invasive tests.

Newbold Nobel Prize controversy
“Despite all his contributions to medical science, and despite the awards won in conjunction with the other eventual winners, Oldendorf was not awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his colleagues Godfrey Hounsfield and Allan Cormack in 1979. This was in concordance with the Nobel committee’s tradition of denying the prize to researchers in applied research (who have M.D. degrees) in favor of researchers in the basic sciences (who have Ph.D. degrees).”

However, his idea was a fundamental discovery which also led to MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and other imaging techniques. Once these techniques became widely accepted, Dr. Oldendorf, along with William Markley McKinney, MD (1930-2003) were instrumental in promoting the use of Computed Tomography among neurologists to help decrease the use of superfluous and invasive tests.

Hounsfield Cormack Nobel Prize controversy

Allan McLeod Cormack “His results were subsequently published in two papers in the Journal of Applied Physics in 1963 and 1964. These papers generated little interest until Hounsfield and colleagues built the first CT scanner in 1971, taking Cormack’s theoretical calculations into a real application. For their independent efforts, Cormack and Hounsfield shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was member of the International Academy of Science. In 1990, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.”

“Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield CBE, FRS[1], (28 August 1919 – 12 August 2004) was an English electrical engineer who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Allan McLeod Cormack for his part in developing the diagnostic technique of X-ray computed tomography (CT).
The suggestion that Hounsfield lacked formal engineering education to the level of a Chartered Engineer does not reflect the nature of engineering education at the time when Hounsfield was a student, or the esteem in which Faraday House was held within the profession.”

The first clinical CT scan on a patient took place on 1st October 1971 at Atkinson Morley’s Hospital, in London, England. The patient, a lady with a suspected frontal lobe tumour, was scanned with a prototype scanner, developed by Godfrey Hounsfield and his team at EMI Central Research Laboratories in Hayes, west London.

Robert S. Ledley, physicist who invented first full-body CT scanner, dies at 86
Then, in 1973, Dr. Ledley introduced one of the most powerful diagnostic aides since the discovery of X-rays in 1895. He called his invention the automatic computerized transverse axial scanner (ACTA). It was, in effect, the first machine capable of producing cross-sectional images of any part of the body.

Today, the CT scan is a commonplace medical procedure. (“CT” stands for computed tomography; another moniker is CAT scan, for computer-assisted tomography.)
CT technology, originally formulated several years earlier by Nobel Prize-winning scientists Godfrey Hounsfield and Allan M. Cormack, transformed medical imaging.
Computer Imaging William H. Oldendorf

The Digging Dog

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