Thursday, April 26, 2012

Role of Physics in Medicine

This is a good article that reviews Lancet's special issue on Physics and Medicine.

While many of us, and especially those who are in this field, are aware of this, the article is more useful when it is preached to those who are not in the choir. The general public, and especially the politicians that determine fundings, need to be told of this FACT. While the knowledge that is gained out of apparently "useless" subject area such as high energy physics, elementary particle physics, astrophysics, etc. are themselves interesting and important, the EXPERIMENTAL techniques and the technology that are pushed to do these studies are paving the way for applications in other areas, including medicine. Your x-rays, MRI, proton therapy, PET-scans, etc., all came out of the advances made to perform these high energy physics/astrophysics/etc. experiments!

High energy physics, especially, continues to push detector technology. Unlike many areas of physics where experimentalists buy equipment off the shelf, and therefore their ability to do many of these experiments depends on what is commercially available, high energy physicists/astrophysicists often have to BUILD and DEVELOP their own detectors. The area of detector physics deals with a lot of applications that are targeted at detecting single-photon pulses of Cerenkov light from, say, a neutrino interacting with a tank of water, or a calorimeter for particle physics collider, etc. Many of the knowledge gained in producing these detectors will eventually make it into other areas, including medicine.

What this means is that, reduced funding in areas which you think has no effect on you is simply going to affect the future of your well-being, and the well-being of your children and grandchildren. It takes years for such knowledge to trickle down to useful applications, and one is simply ruining the seeds that one should be planting now.


1 comment:

Alpha Tango Six Niner said...

Not to forget the application of digital radiography and imaging in the industrial field :)