October 12, 2003


Nobel Misfire?: Raymond Damadian gets snubbed (Ronald Bailey, 10/09/03, Reason)

Did the Nobel committee overlook the first inventor of MRI? I bring this question up because I had thought that the idea that MRI could be used to image living tissue was first conceived by American physician Raymond Damadian. I formed this impression when, back in the mid-1980s I reviewed A Machine Called Indomitable by New York Times reporter Sonny Kleinfield, which was the story of how Damadian created the first MRI machine. A cursory Google search fairly clearly identifies Damadian as the first inventor of MRI scanning. In fact, Damadian's first MRI machine, Indomitable, is displayed at the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio, on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Damadian supporters are running a full page ad in today's Washington Post urging people to contact the Nobel committee to "express their outrage" at excluding Damadian. Why did the committee not cite Damadian's work when it awarded this prize? I have no inside information, but I wonder if the committee was swayed by the fact that Damadian, although a brilliant inventor, is apparently a creation science nut. In ironic contrast, Lauterbur's current research is on the chemical origins of life.

We've often defended the right of religious faiths to punish heresy and, for those who have placed their faith in Darwinism and an entirely materialistic origin of the Universe, Mr. Damadian, with his belief that Creation required an intervening intelligence, is surely a heretic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 12, 2003 6:45 PM

The conjecture I heard noted Mr. Damadian's contribution.

It also noted that the path Mr. (Dr.?) Damadian chose implementing MRI was a dead end; ultimately, he adopted the process used today.

Did the Nobel honor the initial idea, or the fruition thereof? The two they chose to honor were completely instrumental into making the MRI practical.

Mr. Damadian's ideas regarding Creation are utterly immaterial to the MRI; I doubt the committee took them into account.

But they aren't telling. Your guess is as good as, but no better than, mine.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 12, 2003 9:00 PM

Yet it moves

Posted by: oj at October 12, 2003 9:28 PM

The Nobel committee has a strong prejudice toward honoring people who discover unsuspected things, rather than theorists -- though of course some theorists get the prize.

This award seems a little out of the box all around. The honorees were picked, as near as I can tell, not for discovering anything new, nor for explaining something known by a new theory, but for bringing a technique to market.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 13, 2003 5:44 PM

Michael NOBEl a ex vice president of Dr. Damadian Fonar MRI corp and Michael Nobel chairman heads the NOBEL PRIZE group and Michael NOBEL is CEO of a recumbent MRI biz empire Whats fair when you have the power and your own personal interests at stake

Posted by: Beverly at October 14, 2003 6:56 PM