This week in ideas: Building a cheaper MRI, reconciling God and AI, and the next Einstein

Welcome back to another edition of This Week in Ideas, where the Freethink team shares our favorite stories from the week gone by. Obviously, these are our favorite stories from other people, but you should also check out the ones we’ve told ourselves in the Coded series. (It’s shaping up to be an incredible primer on the state of cybersecurity, which means there’s plenty of tips on how to protect yourself from both malevolent hackers and overreaching spy agencies.)

Is it time to disrupt the MRI? “MRIs aren’t perfect. They require a gigantic magnet that can weigh several tons. The magnetic field produced by the device is so powerful it can throw a metal chair across a room. And the whole apparatus can cost several million dollars. Matthew Rosen and his colleagues at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging in Boston want liberate the MRI. They’re hacking a new kind of scanner that’s fast, small, and cheap. Using clever algorithms, they can use a weak magnetic field to get good images of our brains and other organs. Someday, people may not have to go to hospital for an MRI. The scanners may show up in sports arenas, battlefields, and even the backs of ambulances.”

**The next Einstein could be a home-schooled seven-year-old from Maryland: ** “Romanieo began exhibiting his understanding of elements as only a child could. One day, he used his popcorn snack to create model atoms, his father said. With his little hand forming a nucleus, he used popcorn kernels as protons, neutrons and electrons to make elements such as nitrogen and lithium.”

Is a 7-year-old from Maryland the next Einstein?

Is AI a Threat to Christianity? “While most theologians aren’t paying it much attention, some technologists are convinced that artificial intelligence is on an inevitable path toward autonomy. How far away this may be depends on whom you ask, but the trajectory raises some fundamental questions for Christianity.”

Will the rise of artificial intelligence pose questions for Christianity?

Your uplifting story of the week: “ A firefighter helped save a Boston Marathon bombing victim. Now they’re getting married.”

And for the outdoor types: Field & Stream tells you how to build every type of outdoor fire.

Feature image via STAT

Sound waves can trigger torpor-like state in mice and rats
Ultrasound stimulation triggers a torpor-like state in animals, suggesting a noninvasive way to put people into the state.
The radical drop in maternal mortality was a public health miracle
In 1758 in Sweden, 1205 mothers died for every 100,000 live births, which was likely representative of the global maternal mortality rate.
Adult-made neurons mature longer, have unique functions
Neuroscientists don’t know the degree to which adult brains generate new neurons, but adult-made neurons appear to have more “mature” functions.
Chronic pain can be objectively measured using brain signals
Even though pain is universal and we know it happens in the brain, we’ve never before had a way to objectively measure its intensity.
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