Siemens' latest MRI machine (Magnetom Prisma Tim+Dot System 3 Tesla) is one of the most powerful, state of the art medical imaging devices in the marketplace. The first Magnetom Prisma 3-tesla MRI units was installed in the USA at the University of Minnesota a year ago. Now there are about 50 units in Europe, and a few days ago I had a chance to visit one at the Research Centre for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
As you probably know, MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio waves in order to create images of the body, without harmful ionizing radiation. Their goal is to investigate the anatomy and physiology of all your tissues. The brain researchers who introduced their shiny new gadget -- bought for solely research purposes -- said that now they can sit in the best race car in the "Science Formula One": it is fast, it is robust, it is powerful*.
It's also more precise because it has very high resolution, and is thus capable of more satisfying image quality. That means neuroscientists can obtain better real time information about anatomical connections within the living brain -- gathering data that will one day save lives and minds.
*(MRI scanners generate a magnetic field that is strong and uniform at the same time, and the field strength is measured in Tesla. Most of the MRI systems typically operate at 1.5 Tesla.)
This device looks fantastic. I'd call it the iPod of all "MRI players". Just look at it:
Picture: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo