I had my first chance to lay inside a claustrophobic MRI machine today so that I could celebrate Halloween in style with an authentic skeleton costume. The good news is that I am not dying or anything, and I now know what a gazillion watts of electricity buzzing around my head sounds like.
The process is painless. You don’t feel anything. However, I could have sworn that I felt the hair on my arm stand on end at one point. Of course, I realize that is impossible unless my body has taken to depositing iron into my follicles (it could happen, haven’t you seen X-Men 3 where that guy has spiking things come out of him?).
I had a physics class where one of the test questions was to explain how an MRI works. I retained some of that information. I did remember that hydrogen atoms are important in the process and the spin of the atom makes a difference. We are mostly water so the whole thing works out great for seeing just how gross you are on the inside. I also remember that in order to build a 2 Tesla magnet you have to super cool the wires with liquid helium that is something like -452 degrees Fahrenheit. There were a few moments when I envisioned that one James Bond movie where the guy stands up and yells “I am invincible” and then the tanks of liquid helium burst and turn him into a delicious cannibal tv dinner. I prayed that the Wasatch Front be preserved from earthquakes until my 20 minutes were up.
The how it works link above told me the experience would be loud. I figured it might be so I was ready, and they were kind enough to give me ear plugs. The machine I got cozy with for 20 minutes was apparently a connoisseur of heavy, loud punk rock played new age style. The sound and the volume were definitely punk. If at any point I had started yelling random obscenities I am pretty sure the album could go gold. However, the rhythm was very definitely new age. Think Yanni with piercings.
The experience was louder than any concert I have been to and my ears rung for a while afterward. In spite of that at several moments I had to smile and almost laugh because the noise is very rhythmic and very loud and I really wanted to start doing the air guitar thing. (The techs don’t like that much because you are supposed to hold very still and hold your breath for 20 minutes. Besides the tube I was in was only 5 inches bigger than me and getting the licks right would be killer.)
In all I rate the experience very high. Next time you feel like buying a couple of U2 tickets from a scalper for $200 bucks consider the MRI experience instead. It costs the same and after you get the mini air guitar thing right you will thank me.