Saturday, February 02, 2008

Jefferson Lab Imager Can Detect Beginnings Of Breast Tumors

This is just another clear example where the advances in the techniques used in physics produce a direct benefit in other areas, such as medical imaging. In this case, knowledge of detector physics can produce an early detection of breast cancer tumor that a mammogram could have missed.

The pre-clinical results will be published in the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology on Feb. 7.

"We are physicists," Majewski said. "The medical people decide when this device is ready."

The work of Majewski's team has already been developed for the market by Newport News-based Dilon Technologies. This new research builds on Dilon's model and expands its capability because it has been designed to guide a biopsy, Majewski said.

This is also another example of the practical application of physics, in case you encounter people who think that there's nothing directly beneficial from physics.

It is imperative to point out why investment in basic research is so important. It isn't just for the knowledge, but also the "side effects". Many advances in the medical field and computing would not have occurred if it weren't for work done in nuclear and high energy physics. So when people pour money into the biological and health fields but sacrificing funding in basic physics, they are ignoring this fundamental fact that many of the advances made in the medical/biological fields came about thanks to the fruits of the labor done in basic physics. The public, and especially our politicians, need to be fully aware of that! Whoever is responsible for this story should point out clearly where the technology came from.


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