CT pioneer Hounsfield dies

Sir Godfrey Hounsfield has died, the London Telegraph reported today. The renowned inventor, who "conceived the idea for a CAT scanner in 1967 during a weekend ramble in the country," was 84 when he passed on August 12, the newspaper wrote.

In recognition of his invention of computerized axial tomography, Hounsfield was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1979. He shared the prize with another inventor, nuclear physicist Allan Cormak, who unbeknownst to him had worked on essentially the same questions and published the work in 1957, the Telegraph reported.

Hounsfield, born in Nottinghamshire in the U.K. in 1919, took an early interest in farm machinery, the Telegraph reported. He joined the Royal Air Force as a volunteer reservist at the outbreak of World War II, studying radio mechanics independently. Hounsfield received a diploma from the Faraday House Electrical Engineering College in London, but never attended a university. He joined the research staff of EMI in 1951, at first working on radar and guided weapons. There he took an interest in the emerging field of computers, and led the design team that built the all-transistor computer, the EMIDEC 1100, in 1958, according to the newspaper.

The CAT (now CT) scanner, introduced in 1973 and first used for head scans, was a remarkable achievement, not only for its ability to aid in medical diagnosis, but because of the complex algebraic calculations required to make it work. The publicity-shy inventor was said to be "profoundly embarrassed" by the notoriety that came with his invention and the numerous awards that followed. He continued to work as a consultant for EMI and for various hospitals in the U.K. following his retirement in 1986, the Telegraph wrote. The Hounsfield unit (HU), a measure of CT attenuation, bears his name.

Hounsfield was knighted in 1981, and elected to a fellowship of the Royal Society in 1975, the Telegraph reported. His 1979 Nobel Prize lecture is available as a PDF file at http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1979/hounsfield-lecture.pdf

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers
August 17, 2004

Related Reading

MDCT drives important changes in U.K. healthcare, August 10, 2004

Copyright © 2004 AuntMinnie.com

Page 1 of 654
Next Page