1. When Lauterbur was drafted into the US Army in the 1950s, he spent his time working on a early nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) machine, the scientific principle behind MRI, which wouldn’t become a reality until decades later (1970s) with his and Mansfield’s experiments.
2. Lauterbur used the idea of Robert Gabillard (from his doctoral thesis, 1952) of introducing gradients in the magnetic field to determine the origin of the radio waves emitted from nuclei of the object of study. The spatial information allows 2-D pictures to be produced.
3. When Lauterbur conducted his work at Stony Brook, only NMR machine on campus belonged to the chemistry department so he had to use it at night for experimentation and would take care to restore the settings before he left in order to not disrupt the work of other chemists.
4. At the time, chemists went to great pains to create a uniform magnetic field. But Lauterbur realized that the fuzziness in the signal in fact contained information about the spatial distribution of the molecules which could reveal spatial information by varying magnetic field.
5. An early image Lauterbur made was of a clam and two test tubes of heavy water in a beaker of ordinary water. No other imaging technique at the time could distinguish between the two kinds of water. That’s when Lauterbur realized that his idea could result in medical imaging.
6. Not all were impressed by Lauterbur’s counterintuitive approach, however. Nature magazine rejected his article describing his breakthrough and potential applications, but he bore no grudge. “You could write the entire history of science in terms of papers rejected,” he said.
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