Monday, August 28, 2006

Tracy OpenMRI

For a computer geek, OpenANYthing means either adherence to standards, or, lately, having the source code open (in other words, publicly available). For example, OpenVMS is an open VMS (code is not open, but it runs on "open" CPUs now -- and a case of marketing lie too), OpenSuSE is an open SuSE (its code was open before, but the process wasn't), OpenSolaris is Solaris with its code formally "open", although not useful for anyone else.

As you can see, often "Open-" is nothing but marketing bullshit. Geeks like "open" and dislike "closed", so it's only a mindshare game.

So, what is an OpenMRI? Can I get my scans on a CD-ROM there -- in an open format like PNG? It turns out that no, that's not what it means. OpenMRI is not a marketing term or trademark, but a technical term. Plus, Tri-Valley imaging made a mistake naming the Tracy facility: all such places elsewhere have "Open MRI" spelled with a space.

In this case, "open" refers to the design of the MRI machine. Older MRI machines had magnets rotating in the same way as sensor array rotates in a CAT scan machine. Since the magnet is big, the machine had a shape of narrow tube or tunnel piercing the huge housing. Such design made some patients claustrophobic. New, or "open" design, looks more like a C-clamp, with its sides open for the benefit of people with unstable minds. It also takes less space and may be more precise.

I would still like my PNG, if you don't mind.


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