Godfrey Hounsfield


Godfrey Hounsfield

Infobox Scientist
name = Godfrey Hounsfield
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caption = Godfrey Hounsfield
birth_date = 28 August 1919
birth_place = Nottinghamshire
death_date = 12 August 2004
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residence =
citizenship =
nationality = English
ethnicity =
field = electrical engineer
work_institutions =
alma_mater =
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known_for = X-ray computed tomography (CT)
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prizes = 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine
religion =
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Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield CBE, FRS, (28 August 1919 – 12 August 2004) was an English electrical engineer who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Allan McLeod Cormack for his part in developing the diagnostic technique of X-ray computed tomography (CT).

His name is immortalised in the Hounsfield scale, a quantitative measure of radiodensity used in evaluating CT scans. The scale is defined in Hounsfield units (symbol HU), running from air at -1000 HU, through water at 0 HU, and up to bone at +1000 HU.

Invention of the CT scanner

While on an outing in the country, Hounsfield came up with the idea that one could determine what was inside a box by taking X-ray readings at all angles around the object. . In 1975, Hounsfield built a whole-body scanner.

Biography

Childhood and education

Hounsfield was born in Nottinghamshire, England in 1919. He was the youngest of five children. As a child he was fascinated by the electrical gadgets and machinery found all over his parents' farm. Between the ages of eleven and eighteen, he tinkered with his own electrical recording machines, launched himself off haystacks with his own home-made glider, and almost killed himself by using water filled tar barrels and acetylene to see how high they could be waterjet propelled. He attended the Magnus Grammar School (now Magnus Church of England School) in Newark-on-Trent and excelled in physics and arithmetic.

Wartime

Shortly before World War II, he joined the Royal Air Force as a volunteer reservist where he learned the basics of electronics and radar. After the war, he attended Faraday House Electrical Engineering College in London, graduating with the DFH (Diploma of Faraday House). Faraday House was a specialist Electrical Engineering college that provided university level education and was established in 1890, before the advent of most university engineering departments. Faraday House pioneered the use of sandwich courses, combining practical experience with theoretical study.

The suggestion that Hounsfield lacked formal engineering education to the level of a Chartered Engineer does not reflect the nature of engineering education at the time when Hounsfield was a student, or the esteem in which Faraday House was held within the profession.

EMI and later years

In 1951, Hounsfield began work at EMI Ltd. where he researched guided weapon systems and radar. There, he became interested in computers and in 1958, he helped design the first all-transistor computer made in Great Britain: the EMIDEC 1100. Shortly afterwards, he began work on the CT scanner at EMI. He continued to improve CT scanning, introducing a whole-body scanner in 1975, and was senior researcher (and after his retirement in 1984, consultant) to the laboratories.

Hounsfield received numerous awards in addition to the Nobel Prize. He was appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1976 and knighted in 1981. In 1975, he was elected to the Royal Society.

He never married and died in 2004.

References

*cite journal
quotes = no
last=Kalender
first=Willi
authorlink=
year=2004
month=
title= [Worthiness of Sir Godfrey N. Hounsfield]
journal=Zeitschrift für medizinische Physik
volume=14
issue=4
pages=274–5
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 15656110
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = no
last=Oransky
first=Ivan
authorlink=
year=2004
month=
title=Sir Godfrey N. Hounsfield
journal=Lancet
volume=364
issue=9439
pages=1032
publisher = | location =
pmid = 15455486
doi = 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17049-9
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

*cite journal
quotes = no
last=Raju
first=T N
authorlink=
year=1999
month=Nov
title=The Nobel chronicles. 1979: Allan MacLeod Cormack (b 1924); and Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield (b 1919)
journal=Lancet
volume=354
issue=9190
pages=1653
publisher = | location =
pmid = 10560712
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =
doi = 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)77147-6

*cite journal
quotes = no
last=Peeters
first=F
authorlink=
coauthors=Verbeeten B, Venema H W
year=1979
month=Dec
title= [Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology 1979 for A.M. Cormack and G.N. Hounsfield]
journal=Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde
volume=123
issue=51
pages=2192–3
publisher = | location = | issn =
pmid = 397415
bibcode = | oclc =| id = | url = | language = | format = | accessdate = | laysummary = | laysource = | laydate = | quote =

External links

* [http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/329/7467/687 Obituary in British Medical Journal]
* [http://ganfyd.org/index.php?title=Godfrey_Hounsfield Hounsfield Article with technical references on Ganfyd medical reference site]
* [http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/1979/hounsfield-autobio.html Nobel Prize Biography]
* [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1469553/Sir-Godfrey-Hounsfield.html Obituary in The Telegraph]


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