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IBM Science

IBM Creates MRI With 100M Times the Resolution 161

Posted by kdawson
from the little-tiny-hairs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "IBM Research scientists, in collaboration with the Center for Probing the Nanoscale at Stanford University, have demonstrated magnetic resonance imaging with volume resolution 100 million times finer than conventional MRI. This result, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, signals a significant step forward in tools for molecular biology and nanotechnology by offering the ability to study complex 3D structures at the nanoscale."
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IBM Creates MRI With 100M Times the Resolution

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  • by Light and Truth (1444615) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:10PM (#26440195)
    This is a concerning development for those who have been following the advancement of science (MRI Technology). One of the undocumented effects (intentional) of MRI is "direct particle insertion" where the resonance of strong magnetism can be used to transport matter particles as energy through short distances and reassembled within confines of enclosed cavity (skull or chest). This is DOCUMENTED FACT as established by Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur in 1971 through research papers (suppressed as unpublished). With current levels of technology there is too much diffusion by radio waves to take advantage of timing effects due to low resolution. Experiments are performed DAILY to eliminate high levels of interference (government frequencies) but none could prove beyond a doubt a way to perfect a technique for changing neurons due to the small size (can be seen with the strongest microscope only). Having mapped a human brain (genomics) with fine resolution permits modification of magnetic waves to CREATE AND DESTROY thought. This tech was five years to deployment but has been accelerated for widespread acceptance (planned by bureaucracy).
    • by Evanisincontrol (830057) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:15PM (#26440281)
      Please inform us if you are serious or joking so you can be modded appropriately. I hope it's the latter.
    • That was onion-worthy
    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:17PM (#26440299)

      My understanding of this specific MRI technology is that its applications are similar to that of an electron microscope.

      Unless you plan on crawling into a pitri dish your precious little thoughts should be safe. You don't even need tinfoil!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SigmaTao (629358)
        Your brain has to be prepared - Diced.... But don't worry we will give you a replacement - a simple one should suffice :-)
        • Going along with that idea, I always though the transporter on Star Trek was the damn coolest thing in the world when I was a kid, until my father said "You know the principle behind it is that it copies you and destroys the original, correct?" Fuck. that. noise.

          • Going along with that idea, I always though the transporter on Star Trek was the damn coolest thing in the world when I was a kid, until my father said "You know the principle behind it is that it copies you and destroys the original, correct?" Fuck. that. noise.

            As I recall, Star Trek actually avoided ethical problems relating to that by saying that the transporter scanned you, dematerialized you, sent the atoms to the destination, and recombined them. That way they never (meaning rarely, when the writers

            • by jgoemat (565882)
              What I never got was how they could still be talking and moving while being transported.
        • What? Where's the tea?

      • Didn't some crazy kids at MIT show that if in fact someone were trying to beam thoughts into your head, that a tin foil hat was more likely to act in an amplification manner than an interfering one?

        To me, that is the perfect, ultimate fail.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:36PM (#26440543)

      The Doctor: Um, that big, erm, machine thing - is it supposed to be making that noise?
      Florence Finnegan: You wouldn't understand.
      The Doctor: But isn't that a magnetic resonance imaging thing? Like a ginormous sort of a magnet? I did Magnetics GCSE. Well, I failed, but all the same...
      Florence Finnegan: A magnet with its setting now increased to 50,000 tesla.
      The Doctor: Ooh, that's a bit strong. Isn't it?
      Florence Finnegan: It'll send out a magnetic pulse that'll fry the brain stems of every living thing within 250,000 miles. Except for me. Safe in this room.
      The Doctor: But hold on, hold on. I did Geography GCSE. I passed that one. Doesn't that distance include the Earth?
      Florence Finnegan: Only the side facing the moon. The other half will survive. Call it my gift.

      • Florence Finnegan: It'll send out a magnetic pulse that'll fry the brain stems of every living thing within 250,000 miles. Except for me. Safe in this room.

        OT: I do like Doctor Who, but didn't that sound an awful lot like that "magic phone booth" in Superman II where he magically avoided losing his powers [stomptokyo.com] by (insert cheesy script device here) and standing in the booth?

        Of course, the cheese was expected in that episode of Doctor Who [wikia.com], since it was written by Russell T Davis.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          OT: I do like Doctor Who, but didn't that sound an awful lot like that "magic phone booth" in Superman II where he magically avoided losing his powers by (insert cheesy script device here) and standing in the booth?

          The only thing wrong with that was that it stole a basic Star Trek trope, the "reversal of polarity".

          See, earlier in the movie, Superman went inside the booth to lose his powers, and then uses it again to gain them back. But once the other Kryptonians are there, he reverses the booth so it takes

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by HTH NE1 (675604)

            The only thing wrong with that was that it stole a basic Star Trek trope, the "reversal of polarity".

            I was about to object, but then checked the dates and Star Trek (original series) does predate the Third Doctor's "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" [wikipedia.org] (1966-1969 vs. 1970-1974).

            Instead I say, well played sir!

            • by Chris Burke (6130)

              Instead I say, well played sir!

              By pure luck, I had no idea when Doctor Who aired and when/if it first mentioned reversing polarity. But I'll take it. :)

        • Well, in this case she was just referring to the lead shielding she was standing behind when she said she would be safe inside that room.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sams67 (880846)
      The big letters mean it MUST be TRUE.
    • by philspear (1142299) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:11PM (#26440959)

      This is DOCUMENTED FACT as established by Dr. Paul C. Lauterbur in 1971 through research papers (suppressed as unpublished)

      Aha, an undocumented documented fact. Well, I'm convinced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142)

      You forgot the bit about the Time Cube!

    • by Fluffeh (1273756)
      I appreciate the post, but I was wondering if you might be able to repost it with a more slashdot friend car analogy?

      What would happen to a car with this thought control magnetic ray wave you are talking about?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I also HEARD that another SIDE EFFECT was the unbridled NEED to write in CAPS to try and DRIVE home a POINT. NEXT comes the DESIRE to add a lot of EXCLAIMATION marks to EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • There were a large number of mis-spellings in your post. As a service to the community, the corrected version is given here:

      This is a concerning development for those who have been following the advancement of science (Bananas Technology). One of the undocumented effects (intentional) of MRI is "direct banana insertion" where the resonance of strong bananas can be used to transport banana particles as energy through short distances and reassembled within confines of enclosed bananas (skull or chest). This is DOCUMENTED BANANAS as established by Dr. Paul C. Lauterbanana in 1971 through research papers (suppressed as bananas). With current levels of bananas there is too much diffusion by banana waves to take advantage of banana effects due to low resolution. Experiments are performed DAILY to eliminate high levels of bananas (government frequencies) but none could prove beyond a doubt a way to perfect a technique for changing bananas due to the small size (can be seen with the strongest bananas only). Having mapped a human brain (bananas) with fine resolution permits modification of banana waves to CREATE AND DESTROY bananas. This banana was five years to deployment but has been accelerated for widespread bananas (planned by bananas).

      As you can see, it makes much more sense now!

  • by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:13PM (#26440253)

    Now if only HP and AT&T would bring back their R&D departments we might see more companies doing basic research like this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Don't worry Sam Palmisano is doing his best to destroy IBM. Under his so called leadership morale has dropped to lows never seen. Everything is being cut even R&D. Latest rumors are 16,000 most US based to be laid off on Jan 23.
      • Wouldn't it be better to simply accept and welcome the layoffs?

        If you're the one getting laid off, take the opportunity to go back to school and get a/another degree in something you really want to do. Right now, state and federal grants abound for displaced, laid off or otherwise unemployed workers. If you really liked what you do but are destined to lose your job, its not as enjoyable but try to find a position in a company that will value your skills.

        If you're not the one getting laid off, just be aware

        • Sounds like your company did its layoffs "right"

          Morale doesn't usually go up when everyone becomes overworked due to heavy handed staff cutting, which seems to be the usual way of things.

          I would tend to agree with you re: the going back to school comment, the only thing is bills still have to be paid. I have trouble envisioning someone with a family securing enough grants to pay rent/mortgage AND tuition. (This said having gone to school with someone who had 3 children who was falling into great debt gettin

    • May she rot in hell for what she did to HP Labs.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        HP in general is OVER. I have a business class laptop with a 3-year onsite warranty. I've had the wrong optical drive sent to me four times now, the wrong power supply twice, it takes 45 minutes just to get a callback or update status, I had my case elevated and now have the numbers of a level 2 tech support manager and a customer advocacy rep, neither of which tends to return my calls (though the cust. advocate does sometimes.) This machine cost over $2000, is now worth nothing of course, but has never wor

  • uploading (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hedley (8715) <hedley@pacbell.net> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:14PM (#26440271) Journal

    Now we are getting closer. Once you can extract the raw brain data, you can simulate the data. You can 'live' forever if they can get the raw data out.

    Adapting inputs to the simulation and that simulation can interact with you...

    H.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:42PM (#26440613)

      But would you want to live forever in a Windows Vista Box. You are thinking naughty things, cancel or allow.

      • by c_forq (924234)
        Actually that could be very handy. If only I had that during school in eighth grade, "You are becoming erect, cancel or allow?".
    • by mikael (484)

      dd -if=/dev/brain of=/backups/brain`date +%y%m%d%H%M%S`.dd

      • by hedley (8715)

        :) I like the dd. So, a Harry Potter Pensive is not really needed any longer then?

        H.

  • Interesting! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:15PM (#26440287)

    I wonder if it can resolve individual dendrite connections in the brain. If so, we've just developed our first brain scanner capable of mapping a living brain's circuitry. Which means, in principle, we now possess all the technology required to model a human brain, or for that matter (but at extreme cost), create a synthetic one. Though, at present, we have no way of truly providing it with the interface necessary for communication or interaction with the physical world.

    • Since IBM is already working on simulating a cat brain it's very likely.
      • by popeye44 (929152) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:14PM (#26440997)
        Great, All I need is a machine which ignores me.. then 5 minutes later wants something but isn't happy with whatever I give it. randomly scratches the shit out of me and takes off running like it's ass is on fire. No Thanks.
      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:20PM (#26441073)

        ...simulating a cat brain

        No problem:

        for (;;) {
                for (i=1000 ; i ; i--)
                        printf("meow\n");
                cough_up_hairball();
        }

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dice (109560)

          I think you need a call to rand(), a switch statement, and some additional function calls like sleep_in_sun(), eat(), shit(), scratch_aimlessly_at_litter(), tear_through_the_house_for_no_apparent_reason(), etc.

          • by Z34107 (925136) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:04PM (#26443357)

            I think you need a call to rand(), a switch statement, and some additional function calls like sleep_in_sun(), eat(), shit(), scratch_aimlessly_at_litter(), tear_through_the_house_for_no_apparent_reason(), etc.

            It's C. The cough_up_hairball() function has undocumented side effects, including all of he aforementioned.

            Additionally, after 0, the i register underflows when compiled with a particular gcc switch, setting the carry flag and incrementing a pointer in another register. This modifies the LSB of a pointer to an entry in a 256-entry lookup-table that is randomly populated with function pointers which also call those functions. After UNSIGNED_INT_MAX NOPs, the loop starts again.

            Now, in C++, he could have just overloaded the "<<" operator to do all of that.

            • by jstockdale (258118) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:30AM (#26444399) Homepage Journal

              It's C. The cough_up_hairball() function has undocumented side effects, including all of he aforementioned.

              Now, in C++, he could have just overloaded the "<<" operator to do all of that.

              Well, at least it's better than cat implemented in Java:

              AnimalInstance ourCat = new Cat
              ourCat.meow()
              ourCat.sleep_in_sun()
              ourCat.eat()
              ourCat.tear_through_house_for_no_apparent_reason()
              java.lang.OutOfMemoryError: Java heap space
              at
              org.slashdot.animal.Cat.tear_through_house_for_no_apparent_reason() ...

              *sigh* Oh Java.

            • by Dice (109560)

              Good old -funderflow-counters

    • Re:Interesting! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:38PM (#26440563)

      This device won't work on large samples (think brain) because the detection mechanism is a microcantilever. It will work for small particles, since the resonant frequency of the cantilever can remain high with only a small mass on the end. Large objects will simply make the detector extremely slow and insensitive. While a whole brain won't work, I'd expect a few cells or small tissue sample might be possible to image, giving impressive detail on the chemical pathways in the cell and between cells.

    • I wonder if it can resolve individual dendrite connections in the brain. If so, we've just developed our first brain scanner capable of mapping a living brain's circuitry. Which means, in principle, we now possess all the technology required to model a human brain

      One problem I can see is bandwidth. You would need to be able to stream all the state changes in the brain through your instrument. Thats a lot of data, and would require a lot of processing power.

    • Re:Interesting! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zalas (682627) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:44PM (#26440629) Homepage
      You need temporal resolution on the order of one second or less in addition to spatial resolution for most brain imaging. Standard MRI scans essentially scan frequency space of the specimen, which takes some time. The article doesn't say what time resolution their new technique has.
      • You need temporal resolution on the order of one second or less in addition to spatial resolution for most brain imaging. Standard MRI scans essentially scan frequency space of the specimen, which takes some time. The article doesn't say what time resolution their new technique has.

        Temporal resolution of even one femoparc is more than enough for casual imaging, even of receptotarsers. Given a perfectly still specimen (held in place, or even dead!) surwidth can be kept to a minimum which leads to amazing detail, far more than that possible with conventional electoclarosis or similar methods. The only problem is the cost, from what I understand.

        • Temporal resolution of even one femoparc is more than enough for casual imaging, even of receptotarsers. Given a perfectly still specimen (held in place, or even dead!) surwidth can be kept to a minimum which leads to amazing detail, far more than that possible with conventional electoclarosis or similar methods. The only problem is the cost, from what I understand.

          Agree, that's known to be perfectly cromulent.

          • Agree, that's known to be perfectly cromulent.

            Only in cases where the phytoloid has been embiggened. At least _somebody_ got it!

    • Re:Interesting! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ViennaSt (1138481) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:22PM (#26441097)
      Unfortunately, this 3D MRI can not be applied to imaging the human brain yet.

      One problem is that though this machine has great spatial resolution (precision in space)....it may not have great temporal resolution (precision in time).

      In regards to your curiosity about imaging dendritic connections: It may image where/how the connections are made, which is a great leap for Neuroanatomists. But it cannot measure or record the hundreds of thousands of mechanisms and live actions that the dendrites/axons/cell bodies and their connections make during every one action potential that takes place...Even if this machine could measure outside the nanoscale.

      Here's why: Neurons may fire a number of action potentials in millisecond time and increase/decrease in volume as the influx of sodium brings in water into the cell causing it to expand. As enough sodium (positively charged particals) are in the cell causing a depolarization, the voltage-gated ion channels shut off and K+ outflux/Na+ influx ceases. The cell hyperpolarizes, shrinks in volume and it's morphology is changed drastically once again. To capture all this change with such fine resolution is a feat, that sadly, cannot be accoplished by this 3D Machine--since everything it measures must be fixed and perfectly still. What neuroscientist use now for "partial real time brain imaging" is a function MRI or fMRI which measure changes in metabolism (glucose metabolism to be exact) but compromises the great spatial resolution this 3D machine has for the temporal resolution.

      • Unfortunately, this 3D MRI can not be applied to imaging the human brain yet.

        One problem is that though this machine has great spatial resolution (precision in space)....it may not have great temporal resolution (precision in time).

        Forget that problem dude. The sample to be imaged by this MRI has to be placed on top of what the article calls a "silicon diving board". Now, I'm not the sharpest guy in the world, but "silicon diving board" does NOT sound like skull, which, to my lay understanding seems to b

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Yup. And it only scans the surface of whatever it is probing. So, go ahead and put that brain in a microtome first. Don't bother returning it when you're done with it... :)

      • fMRI does not measure changes in glucose metabolism, it measures changes in blood oxygenation.
    • by Thelasko (1196535)

      I wonder if it can resolve individual dendrite connections in the brain.

      How do you get someone to sit still enough to get that kind of resolution?

      • Well, you start by killing them. Typically, a few minutes later you could get them to sit still.

        Sometimes they twitch!

  • At the end of the video are two URL's and a Twitter address. Remember when everyone started putting Web addresses at the end of their ads? Are we entering the new age of making sure everyone can Twitter us too now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalunity (19107)

      Fuck twitter.

      No seriously, I hope they relocate to the Mediterranean and get their cables cut every week.

  • Storage Monster (Score:2, Insightful)

    Good lord I don't want to see the required storage space for each file on that thing...
    • by mosb1000 (710161)
      Not really. This is the combination of AFM or STEM with NMR. If that makes any sense. They scan a tiny magnetic probe across the object being observed.
    • by reverseengineer (580922) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:58PM (#26440793)
      What it amounts to is an atomic force microscope [wikipedia.org] combined with a magnetic needle that allows it to perform proton NMR. An AFM is a pretty general and adaptable technique- the key element is the cantilever system that allows you to detect a tiny amount of force exerted on atoms in a sample; how you supply that force, via magnetic resonance, van der Waals forces, the Casimir effect, etc., makes it versatile. The significant drawback of this instrument is that it is a supermicroscope, not a macroscale scanner like a medical MRI machine. Samples are usually limited to a surface area of a few hundred square microns. The resolution achieved here is impressive, but is best understood as an advancement in microscopy. Just as with a light microscope or an electron microscope, this is a technique for scanning cells, not bodies.
  • Maybe someone who understands this a little better can fill me in.

    The article makes the recording mechanism for the magnetic readings, seem a lot like MEG [wikipedia.org]. In MEG, you sit in a magnetically shielded room and have a "cap" containing SQUIDs [wikipedia.org] placed on your head. The squids detect the minor changes in magnetic fields around neurons. Using some fairly complex mathematics and physics, they can pinpoint where the changes occurred in 3D space and can build a topographic activation map similar to those seen using
    • Re:Similar to MEG? (Score:5, Informative)

      by reverseengineer (580922) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:52PM (#26441455)
      No, this technique isn't anything like magnetoencephalography. The only way it could scan your brain is if you allowed them to cut out a cell at a time. Medical scale MRI works by aligning the spins of certain nuclei (usually hydrogen atoms, which are mostly bound in water molecules in your body) using a powerful magnetic field, then using a radiofrequency field to flip those spins, and then measuring the magnetic fields produced by the nuclei as they relax to their equilibrium state. Functional MRI, or fMRI, the type often used in brain activity monitoring, measures the differing magnetic properties of hemoglobin has when oxygen is bound versus free. Therefore, the technique monitors areas of increased oxygen usage by regions of the brain, which generally correlate to increase activity.

      The technique the article discusses, however, is not to measure the magnetic properties of a bunch of atoms, but to make a picture of a sample by scanning atom by atom. A very precisely constructed magnetic needle scans over a surface, in this case, the surface of a virus. Whenever the needle hovers over a hydrogen nucleus, the nucleus flips, generating a tiny force that pushes down on the stage the virus is mounted on. By recording each of these events, a map is generated of all of the hydrogen nuclei the needle passed over. It's a great way to look at protein structure, but an awfully slow way to look at a brain.
  • by kebes (861706) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:33PM (#26440509) Journal
    The actual scientific paper is:
    C. L. Degen, M. Poggio, H. J. Mamin, C. T. Rettner, D. Rugar Nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging [pnas.org] PNAS 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812068106 [doi.org].

    The abstract:

    We have combined ultrasensitive magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM) with 3D image reconstruction to achieve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with resolution <10 nm. The image reconstruction converts measured magnetic force data into a 3D map of nuclear spin density, taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the 'resonant slice' that is projected outward from a nanoscale magnetic tip. The basic principles are demonstrated by imaging the 1H spin density within individual tobacco mosaic virus particles sitting on a nanometer-thick layer of adsorbed hydrocarbons. This result, which represents a 100 million-fold improvement in volume resolution over conventional MRI, demonstrates the potential of MRFM as a tool for 3D, elementally selective imaging on the nanometer scale.

    I think it's important to emphasize that this is a nanoscale magnetic imaging technique. The summary implies that they created a conventional MRI that has nanoscale resolution, as if they can now image a person's brain and pick out individual cells and molecules. That is not the case! And that is likely to never be possible (given the frequencies of radiation that MRI uses and the diffraction limit [wikipedia.org] that applies to far-field imaging.

    That having been said, this is still a very cool and noteworthy piece of science. Scientists use a variety of nanoscale imaging tools (atomic force microscopes [wikipedia.org], electron microscopes [wikipedia.org], etc.), but having the ability to do nanoscale magnetic imaging is amazing. In the article they do a 3D reconstruction of a tobacco mosaic virus. One of the great things about MRI is that is has some amount of chemical selectivity: there are different magnetic imaging modes that can differentiate based on makeup. This nanoscale analog can use similar tricks: instead of just getting images of surface topography or electron density, it could actually determine the chemical makeup within nanostructures. I expect this will become a very powerful technique for nano-imaging over the next decade.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)

      Just out of curiosity... if you can image specific viruses in a sample of, say, blood, then would it be possible to do extremely reliable blood screening of any and all known viruses by matching the reconstituted image of each object (or a suitably long cryptographic hash thereof) against a database of known viruses? One of the problems with identifying specific viral strains seems to be that it takes an extremely long time, often relies on the detection of the antibodies rather than the viruses themselves

    • The summary implies that they created a conventional MRI that has nanoscale resolution, as if they can now image a person's brain and pick out individual cells and molecules. That is not the case! And that is likely to never be possible (given the frequencies of radiation that MRI uses and the diffraction limit [wikipedia.org] that applies to far-field imaging.

      I say 'never say never'! An MRI is Star Trek-ish enough as it is.
  • Transporter? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RetroGeek (206522)

    I wonder if this is fine enough to be able to distinguish the type and state of a molecule. If so, then you should be able to scan an entire person and store the result.

    Then at a later date (when the technology becomes available) you should be able to re-create that person.

    The beginnings of a transporter.

    • Re:Transporter? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zippthorne (748122) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:51PM (#26440711) Journal

      Indeed. A transporter that works like the visible man.

      Step 1: die. (not strictly necessary, but makes the remaining steps more pleasant.)
      Step 2: freeze body in great big ice cube. agitate and freeze rapidly to avoid bubbles and crystals.
      step 3: put ice block on giant deli slicer. Use "1 cell thick" setting.
      step 4: further divide ice slice into pieces small enough to use with the MRI device. Carefully label the position of each piece.
      step 5: painstakingly scan each piece and store in appropriate database.
      step 6: repeat steps 3 through 5 over the next several months until no slices remain.
      step 7: ?
      step 8: arrive at destination, nearly perfectly reconstructed and only a little bit dead (just your brains. and organs)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eudial (590661)

      I wonder if this is fine enough to be able to distinguish the type and state of a molecule. If so, then you should be able to scan an entire person and store the result.

      Then at a later date (when the technology becomes available) you should be able to re-create that person.

      The beginnings of a transporter.

      Unfortunately, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle [wikipedia.org] dictates that in scanning the position of the particles, you also change their state. You can in short never know everything you need to know about a system to identically replicate it elsewhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jackchance (947926)
        It isn't clear whether the quantum uncertainty of the particles is relevant for reconstructing a biological organism.

        It's true that the precise location of individual ions would be slightly misplaced. However, as long as the wiring of neurons was accurately recreated it might work.

        So while the 'recreated' organism would not be 'exactly' the same as the scanned organism, it might be good enough.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sdpuppy (898535)

          So while the 'recreated' organism would not be 'exactly' the same as the scanned organism, it might be good enough.

          Hey - that's what my wife tells me all the time!

      • I'm not worried. I'm sure someone at IBM is already working on a Heisenberg compensator.

  • yes but (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    You'll know exactly what your brain looked like unfortunately the vict^W subject is vaporized...

  • by Mr_eX9 (800448) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:59PM (#26440813) Homepage
    Has this IBM invention patented itself yet?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, the real question is: Does go BING?

  • by Viking Coder (102287) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:07PM (#26440903)

    kebes already pretty much said it, and as I said (under a different name) on Digg,

    Saying "100 million times stronger than MRI" is a deceptive way to describe this. The normal usage of MRI that the public is familiar with is to scan your body, or parts of your body. This new technology would work on a "sample," for instance a biopsy. If the new technology operated at the same scale - your whole body - and was at 100 million times finer resolution - then that would be astounding.

    But this is a competitor for other microscopes - not MRI.

    • by gardyloo (512791)

      Agreed completely. Note, too, that the claimed "volume resolution" improvement is about 10^8; if this is an equal amount of resolution in three dimensions, then the linear improvement is about 464. This is definitely no mean feat, but it's not quite as radical a change as one first thinks.

      • If they pulled it off for a live human, it would be a radical change.

        As it is, it's in a totally different field of medicine than I typically care about.

  • The article just has some annoying CGI.
  • by John Sokol (109591) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:03PM (#26442193) Homepage Journal

    20 years ago when I was at Stanford they were experimenting with MRI Microscopy.
    They were able to image 1/10 mm resolution of the inside of a common snail. Just using miniature coils.

    My group was using the same machine to map blood flow volume and direction using MRI.

    The article doesn't explain what they are doing in much detail. Even the little video is vague.

    This advancement was enabled by a technique called magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM), which relies on detecting ultrasmall magnetic forces.

  • I totally agree with kebes's comments and this reminds me, back when I was working with a team developing DNA Sequencers (I was doing the software, though hardware and Physics have always been an interest), I got to alternative ways to sequence DNA and one of them was nano-scale MRI. At the time there was some research on micron scale MRI of live samples and looking at some papers the equation for spatial resolution was dependent on temperature so it seemed to suggest one could maybe get to nano scale by gr

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly

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