The Not-so-Nobel Decision

MRI knee abnormal

Recognition denied for achievement of great scientist Raymond Damadian—who is also a creationist

by Carl Wieland

Anticreationists often try to pretend that there is no prejudice against biblical creation in ‘the world of science’. But creationists have long known that things are not like that in the real world. We even have to publish our own peer-reviewed journals; any paper which does not bow to materialistic axioms on origins has a snowball’s chance in a blast furnace of getting published in a secular journal.

In fact, some editors have made it very clear that they will go to great lengths to keep their respective journals free of such ‘corrupting influences’. Then there was the well-publicized case of Forrest Mims, the highly-skilled science writer. His employment by Scientific American was openly denied on the grounds of his creationist views—even though the subjects he was paid to write on were not remotely related to origins.

In June 1994, Creation magazine ran a feature article1 on Dr Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner. This medical breakthrough has saved many lives. We wrote how Dr Damadian had been awarded the United States’ National Medal of Technology. He has also been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, alongside Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and the Wright brothers, where he was awarded the Lincoln-Edison medal.

(At the time, Dr Damadian’s patents on the MRI scanner invention had been infringed. A jury decision in his favour had been inexplicably overturned by the judge in favour of the companies that had exploited his ideas. However, three years later, the US Supreme Court overruled in his favour.)

In 2003, the Nobel Prize for Medicine went to the breakthrough field of diagnostic MRI scanning. It was shared by two scientists. But, to the stunned disbelief of virtually all who worked in that field, these did not include Raymond Damadian, even though the terms allow for up to three people to share the award.

Dr Eugene Feigelson is Dean of the State University of New York College of Medicine in New York, the institution where Damadian’s pioneering work was done. He said, ‘… we are so disappointed, and even angry … all of MRI rests on the fundamental work that Dr Damadian has done here.’

There is no doubt that the two scientists who were honoured, Dr Paul Lauterbur and Sir Peter Mansfield, did contribute to the field. Lauterbur developed techniques for producing images from scans, and Mansfield refined the techniques to make them more practical. But there is absolutely no question that the pioneering breakthroughs were Damadian’s. He was the first to point out, in a landmark 1971 paper in Science (based on experiments involving lab rats), that MRI could be used to distinguish between healthy and cancerous tissue. Lauterbur’s own notes indicate that he was inspired by Damadian’s work.

As an experimentalist, Dr Damadian had to overcome the scoffing of theoretical physicists. Against much opposition, he built the first working MRI scanner. The first MR image of a live human chest was made with this machine on 3 July 1977. The prototype is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hall of Medical Sciences. In 1972 Dr Damadian filed the first patent for MRI scanning. Dr Bradford James is professor of biochemistry at Drexel University, and Chairman of the Committee on Sciences and the Arts that elected Dr Damadian for the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Medal and Bower Award. He said, ‘There is no controversy on this. If you look at the patents in this field they’re his.’…

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image credit: MRI image of an abnormal knee Ptrump16