The Music Of An MRI

Andrew Sullivan —  May 12 2012 @ 3:45pm

A beautiful thing:

Here’s the way I understand [how an MRI works]: the body is made of mostly water, and each human tissue contains its unique quantity of water. Normally, the protons in each water molecule are spinning around at random, but if you put them inside a giant magnetic field, they’ll come to attention and point in the same direction. Once you’ve got them all lined up, you fire a radio frequency at them (woodpecker, jackhammer, heartbeat), which knocks them out of alignment. Then you turn the sound off and let the protons come back into their orderly magnetized lineup. And—the crucial part—in the process of re-aligning, they send back little radio waves of their own. Those sounds are what get translated into images.

So here it is: with all our technological advances, the best way to see inside a body is music and rhythm. (Whether or not Dubstep qualifies as music is another topic.) Take an xray of the atoms and molecules in the fleshy matter of the human frame, and you’ll get a vague idea of what might be there; fire some music at those suckers and you’ll get a clear image of precisely the way things are.