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I Experiment Ideas using an MRI scanner?

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  1. May 9, 2018 #1
    So I've stumbled upon a really cool opportunity this summer, where I basically have a hospital which has agreed to let me do an experiment using their 3T MRI machine. I'm a physics undergrad and I want to do a physics experiment using the MRI, but I have absolutely no idea what to do. I've tried speaking to staff in the department but they've all said this isn't their area and they can't help. If anyone has any ideas, I would really appreciate it, I don't want to miss out on this opportunity!!
     
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  3. May 9, 2018 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Wait, let me understand this correctly. You requested the use of a facility before you actually came up with a plan on what to use it for? And they agreed to it, even though no one in your department has any expertise in this area?

    Wow! Where do I find such places?

    Zz.
     
  4. May 9, 2018 #3
    Haha yeah, I didn't exactly request the MRI officially, more of an it's-who-you-know situation. I'm not entirely sure what they'll allow me to do with it, but I'm on very good terms with the chairman of the board and it's a private hospital so I'll have a fair amount of freedom, I think.
     
  5. May 9, 2018 #4

    ZapperZ

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    So you have this machine. Do you know exactly what it can and can't do? I mean, EXACTLY, as in capability, specs, limitations, type of data one can get, etc....etc. It is a bit silly to ask on a forum for suggestions when none of us (and you), don't quite know what something like this is capable of.

    Maybe your first task is to ask those who know the machine what its capabilities are, so that at least, you know what it can and cannot do. You might also want to ask if they had hosted students in similar situations before, and if they had, what kind of studies were performed. And finally, ask for the type of access that you will be given, how long of a run time you'll get, the constrains on anything that you bring that you want to study, etc... etc. There are A LOT of details here that are missing that are usually part of a research project, and unfortunately, since you are doing this on your own, the responsibility falls on you to sort this out.

    Zz.
     
  6. May 9, 2018 #5

    Wrichik Basu

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    I cannot suggest an experiment with an MRI machine, but I can advise you to be very aware while doing anything with it. Make sure that you do not have any metal near your body. Last year, a person in India died after being sucked into the machine. He was carrying his mother's oxygen cylinders, and had a bracelet around his wrist and a chain around his neck. The hospital staff were not aware that the MRI machine was on. He died a painful death.
     
  7. May 9, 2018 #6
    I totally agree and I have asked about the specs/capabilities but they haven't gotten back to me yet, so I was hoping to get a vague idea of a project before asking again. I know the company which the hospital uses for the MRI but I can't seem to find the actual specs of the machine. I'm open to any suggestions (knowing that it's more than plausible that they might not get accepted) if anyone has thought about this sort of topic before.
     
  8. May 9, 2018 #7

    Wrichik Basu

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    Such opportunities are rare. And it's rarer with a hospital. Once, I contacted a local hospital and requested them to let me use their electron microscope. The reply to the mail never arrived.
     
  9. May 9, 2018 #8

    ZapperZ

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    I'm not going to say that this is "unique" to the situation in India where the safety rules may be a bit more lax, but here in the US, as far as I know, MRI suites are usually interlocked, meaning that if someone walks into it while the machine is on, it automatically shuts off. And secondly, it is not only against the rules, but it is extremely unlikely that a visitor is asked to perform ANY official task, such as carrying an oxygen cylinder. When I read that incident months ago, I had to check whether this was a hoax or if it was April 1st.

    Zz.
     
  10. May 9, 2018 #9

    ZapperZ

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    Is this project part of an independent study for college credits? Or is this something you do on the side, independent of your school work?

    If it is the former, then your academic program may require a faculty member to supervise the work. Otherwise, you won't get credit for it. If it is the latter, you DO need a supervisor from somewhere, maybe even someone at the facility. If I were responsible for the facility, someone like you should not be allowed to run around the place unsupervised. So did you arrange for someone there to be the contact person and be able to monitor your project? If there is, maybe this should also be the person that you start with in asking for possible ideas on what to do.

    Zz.
     
  11. May 9, 2018 #10

    sophiecentaur

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    This is quite amazing. Apart from the obvious health and safety aspects, what happens if the scanner gets damaged in some way? The earning power of an MRI scanner is legendary - much more than an employee. The OP can expect to have a number of very anxious technicians hanging round during any experiments.
    I used to have enough trouble grabbing off-air time to do experiments on UHF TV Klystron transmitters and they are hardly even 1/10 the cost of an MRI machine. I had an incident when I pulled the programme feed to a national LF sound transmitter for about two seconds in the daytime. They almost rang the Lutine Bell at Lloyd's of London that day.
     
  12. May 9, 2018 #11
    It's independent - just looking for something to make my summers at uni worthwhile. I have met with the person in charge, and he has agreed to supervise me, but he is a doctor and so his ideas were more medical (like investigating the depth of different tissues). While this is still interesting, I would prefer to have a little more physics involved if possible. Although we haven't discussed it, I'm certain I'll be well supervised, and I can't imagine I'll be the one actually using the machine, but I will be able to say what I want to put in there and what I want imaged etc.
     
  13. May 9, 2018 #12
    I'm not sure what's going to happen/what they'll allow me to do, but they probably won't let me use the machine directly, so hopefully there's not much I can do to break it ahah. What kind of experiments did you do?
     
  14. May 9, 2018 #13

    sophiecentaur

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    Different experiments with low frequency data signalling with phase modulation on top of the standard audio MF AM and attempts to reduce non linear effects during reduced power operation of TV transmitters.
    Happy days!
     
  15. May 9, 2018 #14
  16. May 9, 2018 #15

    Dale

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    Wow! Amazing

    So do you want your experiment to be more physics related or more imaging related?
     
  17. May 9, 2018 #16
    More physics related would be great! But I'm open to all suggestions :)
     
  18. May 9, 2018 #17

    Bystander

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  19. May 9, 2018 #18

    Dale

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    Perhaps get a small piece of metal, like maybe a stainless steel surgical screw or something similar, and measure the force on it at different locations around the magnet.

    Alternatively, you could measure the time that it takes for a non-magnetic metal plate (e.g. aluminum) to fall from horizontal to vertical when supported at two corners at different locations in the room.
     
  20. May 9, 2018 #19
    That's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking to do, but I'm pretty sure they won't allow me to put metal in the multimillion-dollar machine :( the metal plate sounds interesting, but even that I don't think they'll be okay with, even if it's non-magnetic
     
  21. May 9, 2018 #20

    Stephen Tashi

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    An important area of research is the mathematical analysis of MRI data - how to make better images from the raw data. See if your friends at the hospital can provide MRI data in a raw form. Experiment with algorithms to process it. That could require doing an MRI scan of something since the hospital might not release data from real patients.
     
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