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Imperial TechnoscienceTransnational Histories of MRI in the United States, Britain, and India$
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Amit Prasad

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026956

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026956.001.0001

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Translating a Dream into Reality

Translating a Dream into Reality

Birth of MRI and Genesis of a “Big Science”

(p.37) 2 Translating a Dream into Reality
Imperial Technoscience

Amit Prasad

The MIT Press

Celebration of MRI as “the ultimate imaging technique” is today neither uncommon nor unwarranted. But, in the 1970s, scientists and nonscientists alike were unsure whether it could ever be developed. Apart from theoretical and technical difficulties, there were a variety of other issues and concerns that stood in the way of MRI's (it was not even called MRI then) emergence as a medical imaging technology. The birth of MRI, this chapter shows, was the outcome of a variety of unpredictable and contingent, albeit hierarchical, entanglements that stretched across both time and geography. It argues that distinctions between invention, development, and diffusion of technology are, in practice, messy and muddled. Different stages in the life cycle of a technology, as the history of MRI illustrates, are often folded onto each other. It also argues that, although contingent upon circumstances, the development of MRI was a hierarchical and exclusionary process. The transformation of MRI research into a “big science,” among other things, had the consequence of privileging some research groups and excluding others and as such it also had a dramatic impact on the transnational geography of MRI research and development.

Keywords:   MRI development, big science, industry, international competition, shift in the center of MRI research

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