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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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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @06:26PM (#26440429)
    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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Not really. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geckipede (1261408) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:39PM (#26441923)
    So you need a way for the external machine to influence parts of your brain. If you can make a computer override the output of any particular neuron then you can burn out and take over the running of one neuron at a time. It's the ship of theseus problem made to work for you. Your identity is not embedded in any particular cell, so you could remain conscious though the duration of the transfer process. I imagine it taking quite a long time, I wouldn't be comfortable with it unless the transfer took a good fraction of a year, but the principle is sound even if you do it more quickly.
  • 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.

  • by jd (1658) <imipak@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:04PM (#26442207) Homepage Journal

    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 (which doesn't seem reliable, and has produced many stories purporting specific people are immune to viruses those people subsequently die from), and just seems to be all-round a really bad idea if you can avoid it.

    If this MRI scanner can image a virus in 3D in such a way that modeling software (possibly with human aid) can isolate the virus and perform a direct match-up, it would seem that you should be able to screen for the virus (a) long before the immune system has detected anything, and therefore before an immune response has occurred, and (b) much more reliably (it should be hard to fool an MRI at this resolution, whereas bacteria and viruses fool the immune system all the time).

    However, this line of reasoning is highly dependent on the assumption that the imaging can produce some images that are detailed enough that you can classify things automatically or semi-automatically, but not so detailed that "noise" (irrelevant variations) prevent identification. It is also highly dependent on the assumption that by "3D imaging", they mean images where the component objects can be separated in 3D space, rather than being a 3D "soup" that a trained expert can (eventually) pick objects out from. There are probably other assumptions in there that seem so obvious I'm missing that they're even there.

    Even if this is possible (which is a big if), there are any number of factors (price, portability, energy costs, robustness, ease of maintenance, etc) which might preclude it from being used in practice in this way, except perhaps in the case of something particularly dangerous and new. I imagine SARS might have taken less time to classify, had this been available at the time of the initial breakout, assuming I'm correct about how good it is. HIV took even longer to identify, and the cause of CJDnv is only thought to be prions, there is no direct evidence of this - evidence this scanner could possibly provide. (Along, maybe, with an explanation for the other new CJD strain that is affecting Americans.)

  • by JoeSilva (215173) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @12:27AM (#26443951)

    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 greatly cooling the apparatus in addition to shrinking the sample/coils/probe.

    Has anyone else looked into this? Is it really feasible?

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