Ray Damadian used his large-bore scanner “Indomitable” to acquire the first MR image of the human body in 1977. One of his postdoctoral students at the time, Lawrence Minkoff, sat in the coil for four hours while a single slice through the torso was acquired (originally, they had tried to use Damadian himself, but he was not skinny enough to fit into the coil—although he was not by any means obese, just a large, healthy man with a very small MR coil!). Voxels were acquired one at a time; two minutes were required for the acquisition of each voxel and a total of 106 voxels were acquired. Indomitable’s magnetic field was only .05 Tesla—compare that to today’s typical scanner, which is usually 1.5 or 3 T. (For comparison, the earth’s magnetic field is approximately .00005 T).
Anyway, I kind of geeked out a little bit when I saw these images. It is amazing to me the amount of work and time and genius, really, that went into creating that single, low-resolution image. And yet, the technology rapidly revolutionized medicine and science, particularly neuroscience. Thanks, Ray Damadian!
- Groundbreaking MR image originally published here:
—> Damadian, R., Goldsmith, M., & Minkoff, L. (1977). NMR in cancer: XVI. FONAR image of the live human body. Physiol. Chem. Phys., 9, 97-108.
- Picture of Lawrence Minkoff is from FONAR.
- Picture of Indomitable is copyright Jeff Goldberg/Esto and was originally posted on flickr here.
If you want to read more, I highly recommend the following textbook, which provides a great intro to the history, science, and practice of fMRI:
—>Huettel, S. A., Song, A. W., & McCarthy, G. (Eds.). (2009). Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. (2nd Ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.