Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Some Minor Science News PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Today, we learn that IBM has a new product. It's no big deal... just an MRI that has 100 million times the resolution of the ones we use today. Wait... let me type that out completley... 100,000,000 times the resolution. That a 4 nanometer resolution, which is more than enough to see a single virus particle.

The IBM MRFM uses a magnetic sensor tip which picks up on the minute magnetic forces of hydrogen atoms in the sample, called a resonant slice. The slice sits beneath a tiny silicon cantilever which vibrates in the presence of minute magnetic fields. Vibrations are tracked by a laser interferometer, recording 3D details of whatever's at that location. Image courtesy of IBM.

While traditional MRIs scan the whole body, this device is meant for small samples. But this machine should open a whole new world of information about the world that's just too small to see. Electron microscopes were an enormous breakthrough when they were introduced in the 1930's, and this device could prove to be equally revolutionary.

So where did I read this "minor" news? Front page of the NY Times? Newsweek?  No, it was on TGDaily.com. Google News lists about 40 sources for the story, compared with 5,278 for "Slumdog" winning awards. Nothing against Slumdog... I'm sure it's very entertaining, but it's not going to lead to better engineering, more effective medicine, or a better understanding of how our world works.

Yes, the article is technical, and I don't pretend to be able to understand how it works, and I probably understand science technology better than the average American. But it doesn't take a detailed knowledge of interferometrics to know that this device should be major news.