Troy, N.Y. — Originally discovered by accident, X-ray CT scans are now performed about 100 million times a year in hospitals and clinics around the world to identify problems in patients. How do these magic eyes work? Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute biomedical imaging expert Ge Wang detailed the history and mechanics of the X-ray and computed tomography (CT) scanners in a recent TED-Ed video titled “How X-rays see through your skin.”
The opportunity to embark on the project came as a result of Wang’s affiliation with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Last year, Wang was among the 401 newly selected AAAS fellows recognized for their “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” AAAS honored new fellows at its annual meeting in February 2015.
“I attended the AAAS annual meeting to get my fellow certificate,” said Wang, who serves as the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and director of the Biomedical Imaging Cluster at Rensselaer. “The meeting turned out to be rather wonderful, especially after I attended a session organized by TED-Ed, and participated in several very inspiring discussions during the session. TED-Ed invited ideas from the audience and expressed an interest in my suggestion of explaining biomedical imaging ideas especially on X-rays and CT. I wrote a proposal and received approval by TED- Ed to develop the video.”
TED-Ed is a free educational website. The growing TED-Ed video library offers carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. The platform also allows users to take any educational video, not just TED’s, and create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student. TED-Ed videos are geared toward high school/college students, and the general public.
Ge Wang is the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Chair Professor of Engineering, the director of the Biomedical Imaging Center, and a member of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer. In naming him a fellow, AAAS cited his “distinguished contributions to the field of biomedical imaging, particularly for X-ray computed tomography, optical molecular tomography, interior tomography, and multi-modality fusion.”
Wang’s innovations over the past 25 years have advanced the field of biomedical imaging, particularly computed tomography (CT), bioluminescence tomography, interior tomography, and omni-tomography for grand fusion of all relevant tomographic modalities (“all-in-one”) to acquire different datasets simultaneously (“all-at-once”) and capture multi-physics interactions (“all-of-couplings”). He wrote the pioneering papers on the first spiral cone-beam CT algorithm that enables spiral cone-beam CT imaging, which is used in almost all hospitals worldwide. More than 70 million CT scans are performed annually in the United States, with a majority in the spiral cone-beam/multi-slice mode.