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Physics at Work 2020 - Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre

Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC)

Q&A Session 13:15 - 13:45 on Tuesday 22nd September

What is the WBIC?

The Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre (WBIC) is a major research facility in the University of Cambridge, dedicated to bringing the latest imaging research imaging protocols to both cognitive and clinical research. We work closely with clinical and basic scientists across the University and the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. As a dedicated research facility on the Addenbrooke’s site, the WBIC has been incorporated into the environment of a Neurosciences Critical Care Unit. This regional centre provides the relevant care for the 2.6 million population of East Anglia, allowing crucial research into neurotrauma that is difficult within a conventional radiology department. The WBIC recently installed one of the UK's most advanced MRI scanners: a "7T Terra" system from Siemens. Our 7T MRI Physics Group, led by Dr Rodgers, are a 10-strong team of MR physicists dedicated to creating new cutting-edge techniques for imaging using this advanced scanner.

What students will see in our demonstration?

In our demonstration we explain the basics of Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Positron Emission Tomography. It will be a journey starting from physical principles, through technical aspects of medical equipment leading towards clinical applications. If you have ever wondered what is hidden under the white covers of medical scanners and how does it actually work, then we welcome you to join us for this WBIC lecture!

What physics is used?

We will cover a broad range of physical phenomena from classical physics (mechanical resonance and conservation of angular momentum principle), through electromagnetism (Faraday induction and superconductivity) and a bit of quantum mechanics (nuclear spin) to nuclear physics (beta + radioactive decay, electron-positron annihilation and detection of radiation). Computational methods for data processing and data analysis also play a key role in MR physics just like in many other areas of modern physics.

Why is this physics useful?

Modern medical equipment rely on number of fascinating physical phenomena. Electric currents able to flow in a superconducting magnets with negligible loss of energy, tiny nuclear magnets which can dance to the music of electromagnetic waves or elementary particles disappearing and reappearing in the form of another completely different types of matter – all that may sound either as a fairy tale or a story from the most cutting edge scientific laboratories where hardly anyone has access. But in fact those wonders are used every day in number of hospitals around the world helping thousands of patients to properly diagnose and cure them.

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