People do the darndest things inside MRI machines.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are a technological marvel. They pick up tumors, let us see bone fractures too small for X-rays, and examine electrical activity in the brain. You can do them standing up, or sitting down, or lying on your back. They're completely safe -- unless you're carrying a gun, evidently -- since there's no radiation involved. It's no surprise, then, that MRIs have been used for all sorts of wacky science experiments. Below, a selection of some of the coolest uses of MRI scanning.
While playing jazz
Charles Limb, a hearing specialist at Johns Hopkins and a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory, wanted to know how some musicians are able to produce concert-length pieces of music that are entirely improvised, from beginning to end. So he stuck jazz pianists and rappers inside an MRI and had them perform. The resulting imaging showed that the most prolific improvisers somehow managed to shut off parts of their brains that handled self-monitoring, leading Limb to conclude what many musicians can probably intuit: don't worry if you make a mistake.
While giving birth
Giving birth in a hospital bed is hard enough. Now imagine doing it in an MRI scanner while it's turned on, taking 3D pictures of your womb with that incessant banging to keep you company. That's exactly what one German woman did in 2010, and the act was all caught in vivid detail. Doctors could even watch the baby's head change shape during the process.
While reading T.S. Eliot