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Students test how strong a 4 tesla MRI magnet is

Anyone that’s had the “pleasure” of being squeezed into a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device for medical testing knows that you must ensure you have absolutely no metal on or in your person before allowing the technician to turn it on. The reason is a simple one: you are about to be inserted into what amounts to a gigantic electromagnet, and no one wants to clean up the mess if you forgot to take out your earrings, for example.

So what exactly would happen if you turned an MRI machine on and then threw some metal objects into it? A group of students and professors from the University of California at Berkeley found out when they came across an old MRI unit that was being decommissioned. Check out the fun that they had with it in the video above.

MRI VS. Chair

Used by doctors the world over as a non-invasive way to get a picture of what’s happening inside a human body, MRI technology was first invented back in the 1950′s by a researcher named Herman Carr. Despite his claims that he’d successfully created a 2D imaging device, it wasn’t until 1973 that the world actually saw a published 3D MRI image. Over a thirty-year period the technology was perfected, with 2003 being the watershed moment when two scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize because of advances they had made that positively impacted medical science.

The group from UC Berkeley wanted to show the world exactly what types of forces are in play when using an MRI imaging device, and as you can see, it certainly is an awesome spectacle. Capable of exerting over 2,000 pounds of force on an ordinary office chair is impressive indeed.

Of course, the setup that the group used could hardly be called scientifically accurate; wooden beams and a weight hook isn’t exactly a controlled environment. But the idea comes across. The cliche “don’t try this at home” comes to mind as the MRI machine seems to devour the metal stapler that the crew throws in. It’s unlikely anyone reading this has an MRI scanner lying around, though.

More information is available at the practiCalfMRI blog

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