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Sir Godfrey Hounsfield

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 16 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:687
  1. Caroline Richmond
  1. Geoffrey Newbold Hounsfield, engineer (b 1919, CBE, FRS), d 12 August 2004.

    Engineer who invented computed tomography and won the Nobel prize for medicine

    Sir Godfrey Hounsfield invented the computed tomographic scanner, and thus made an incomparable contribution to medicine. An engineer, he conceived the idea of computed tomography during a weekend ramble in 1967. Initially it had nothing to do with medicine but was simply “a realisation that you could determine what was in a box by taking readings at all angles through it.”

    Back in his workshop at EMI research laboratories in Hayes, Middlesex, he began work on a computerised device that could process hundreds of x ray beams to obtain a two-dimensional display of the soft tissues inside a living organism. By recording on sensors rather than x ray film and taking multiple pictures from a rotating photon source, a series of “slices” could be photographed that showed the different density of tissues. By making a series of such photographs at …

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