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Plastic Robots Can Perform Surgery in an MRI

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In the future, minor surgery could happen inside an MRI scanner. Researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts are working on robots that can function inside magnetic resonance imaging machines to allow surgeons to react to real-time information about the body as they see it.

MRI scanners are essentially giant magnets with a hole for a person inside, which makes putting most metal inside them extremely dangerous. Anything metal in the same room as the scanner—even something as innocuous as a mop bucket—can get pulled in at high speeds, causing major injuries. What else tends to have metal parts? Robots.

MRI machines are a tight squeeze for one person, much less a patient and a surgeon. To allow doctors to make use of magnetic imaging during surgery, researchers from the Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) Robotics Research Laboratory are developing plastic and ceramic robots. These automated surgical assistants are being used for prostate biopsies at one Boston hospital.

Instead of doctors blindly stabbing patients with needles trying to take samples of the prostate during a biopsy, the MRI allows them to see suspicious-looking tissue first. They can then guide the robot to the right place without guessing. The pilot has only included a dozen or so patients, and the robotic assistant isn’t yet ready for clinical trials, but it could eventually be used for similar surgical procedures for the kidneys, the liver, or the brain.

[h/t: IEEE Spectrum]

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History
When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0
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Space
8 Facts About the Accomplished Female Astronomer Caroline Herschel
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0
Wellcome Images, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Caroline Herschel (1750–1848) was a German woman who made great contributions to science and astronomy. 

1. SHE WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO DISCOVER A COMET.

Herschel spotted the comet (called 35P/Herschel-Rigollet) in December of 1788. Because its orbital period is 155 years, 35P/Herschel-Rigollet will next be visible to humans in the year 2092.

2. SHE INITIALLY WORKED AS A HOUSEKEEPER.

In her early twenties, Herschel moved from Germany to England to be a singer. Her brother William (the astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus and infrared radiation) gave her singing lessons, and she was his housekeeper. She later became his assistant, grinding and polishing the mirrors for his telescopes.

3. BUT SHE LATER TURNED HER REAL PASSION INTO A PAYING GIG.

Herschel was the first female scientist to ever be paid for her work. Starting in 1787, King George III paid her £50 per year to reward her for her scientific discoveries.

4. SHE WAS TECHNICALLY A LITTLE PERSON.

Herschel was only 4 feet 3 inches tall—her growth was stunted due to typhus when she was 10 years old.

5. SHE BROKE BARRIERS, EARNING RESPECT FROM THE HERETOFORE MALE-ONLY SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.

Herschel was the first woman to receive a Gold Medal from London’s Royal Astronomical Society, in 1828. The second woman to receive one was well over 150 years later, in 1996.

6. SHE CHEATED AT MATH … KIND OF.

Because Herschel was female and thus wasn’t allowed to learn math as a child, she used a cheat sheet with the multiplication tables on it when she was working.

7. EARTH'S MOON HONORS HER LEGACY.


NASA/LRO_LROC_TEAM, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A crater on the moon is named in honor of Herschel—it’s called C. Herschel. The small crater is located on the west side of Mare Imbrium, one of the moon's large rocky plains.

8. SHE GARNERED AWARDS WELL INTO HER NINETIES.

For her 96th birthday, Prussian King Frederick William IV authorized that Herschel receive an award: the Gold Medal for Science.

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