Please Don't Feed the MRI Machines
from the animal-magnetism dept
As magnetic-resonance imaging scanners have become more commonplace and the power of their magnets has increased, the machines are getting hungry and sucking in all kinds of stuff — floor polishers, wheelchairs and medical equipment are some of the more mundane things, with the New York Times saying a sprinkler repairman’s acetylene tank was sucked into one, causing a fire that burned down a building. In another case, a policeman’s gun was sucked out of its holster and fired a shot when it hit the machine. MRI magnets are never off, even when the power is cut, because they draw power from supercooled helium, though one company is working on a new generation of scanners that only attract ferromagnetic metals like iron, nickel and cobalt. Observers say the biggest cause of problems is inattentive staff. Apparently these magnets attract morons as well. Update: The NYT’s corrected the original story to clarify that MRIs “are cooled by liquid helium to eliminate electrical resistance so that their magnetic fields persist indefinitely, not powered by liquid helium.” The second error was my own: the company is indeed working on detectors that are only sensitive to ferromagnetic metals.