Magnetic Resonance Imaging – A Look into The Past

Magnetic resonance imaging is a relatively new imaging technique. Talking about the history of magnetic resonance imaging, it dates back in the 1940s. In 1946, two scientists in the United States Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell independently discovered the magnetic resonance imaging phenomena and were later awarded the Nobel Prize in 1952.They described a physicochemical phenomenon that was based upon the magnetic properties of certain nuclei in the periodic system.

Edward Purcell worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT, and later joined the faculty of Harvard University whereas Felix Bloch, a Swiss national, taught at the University of Leipzig until 1933.

Apart from Bloch and Purcell, there were other scientists working in the field. In the year 1924, Wolfgang Pauli suggested the possibility of an intrinsic nuclear spin. The following year, George Eugene Uhlenbeck and Samuel A. Goudsmit introduced the concept of the spinning electron. Two years later Pauli and Charles Galton Darwin developed a theoretical framework for grafting the concept of electron spin into the new quantum mechanics. In 1933, Otto Stern and Walther Gerlach were able to measure the effect of the nuclear spin by deflection of a beam of hydrogen molecules.

Up until the 1970s, the application of magnetic resonance imaging was limited to chemical and physical analysis. In 1971, Raymond Damadian showed that nuclear magnetic relaxation times of tissues and tumors differed. Scientists were motivated to use MRI to study diseases. In 2003, Paul C. Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield discovered the use of MRI as a diagnostic tool.  Over the next two decades, scientists developed MRI into the technology that we now know today.


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