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Periodic Table of Nottingham


Nottingham element: Sir Peter Mansfield

Sir Peter Mansfield revolutionised clinical neuroscience worldwide with his remarkable discovery of magnetic resonance imaging. The MRI scanner enabled the internal human anatomy to be revealed in precise detail and it revolutionised diagnostic medicine.

In 1964 he became a lecturer in the University of Nottingham’s Department of Physics. It was in 1976, in the first demonstration of live human anatomy, he scanned the finger of a PhD student. Work developing scanners continued, and Sir Peter retired from the University after 30 years. The Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre at the University continues to carry out research into new medical imaging techniques.

In 1993, he was knighted for his service to physics, and in 2003 he became the first Nottingham scientist to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine, for his contribution to the invention of MRI. Sir Peter died in 2017 at the age of 83.

Scientific element: Promethium

The highly radioactive element is named for Prometheus, the Titan who stole fire from the Greek god Zeus, to give to mankind.

Promethium is prepared in a lab. It is extremely rare on Earth, although it has been detected in specimens from the radioactive decay of uranium.

It is silvery white and the salts glow in the dark with a pale blue or green light. Due to its rarity, its primary purpose is for research but it has possibilities for use in a variety of medical devices, batteries, and in luminescent paint.

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