18 July 2008

Had a CT scan? You should thank the Beatles...

"Here’s the story: in the 1960s, a middle-aged engineer named Godfrey Hounsfield was working at Electrical & Musical Instrument Ltd., where he began as a radar researcher in 1951. The company, known as EMI for short, was a typical industrial scientific company at the time, working on military technology and the burgeoning field of electronics. Hounsfield was a skilled but unexceptional scientist, leading a team that built the first all-transistor computer in 1958. Through its work in radar the company began working in broadcasting equipment, which complemented its ownership of several recording studios in London. Specifically, at Abbey Road. In the 50s, the company began releasing LPs, and by the end of that decade, thanks to an acquisition of Capitol Records, the company had become a powerhouse in popular music.

Then, in 1962, on the recommendation of EMI recording engineer George Martin, the company signed the Beatles to a recording contract...

Flush with money broken out of teenagers’ piggy banks worldwide, EMI gave Hounsfield the freedom to pursue independent research. Hounsfield’s breakthrough was combining his work with computers together with an interest in X-rays...

Hounsfield’s idea was to measure in three dimensions, by scanning an object - most dramatically, a human head - from many directions. The result was a cross-sectional, interior image that he called computed tomography, or CT..."

(For which he received the Nobel Prize. Credit to Epidemix.)

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