Chance » Reflections » Cheng

In Memory of a Master

Olivia Ho Cheng / Aurora Imaging Technology

15 May, 2011

When my son was young, I encouraged him to play the piano. I told him that “music to a soul is like water to the ground.” When watching master performers play their instruments with total concentration, you can see them completely immerse themselves in the music. Their beings and the music become inseparable, and the music they play carries magic. They become magnets, attracting people and bringing them into a world of “wonders.” Great scientists are like master musicians. They do their work with complete devotion, immersing themselves completely in the research, constantly finding new ways to pursue perfection, and the result is that new things are created and wonders happen.

I first met Brit a few years ago at his lab at the University of Pennsylvania. He agreed to meet me because our mutual friend, Da Hsuan, told him that our company develops and manufactures an MRI system specifically designed for better detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Following our visit to Penn, Brit and Shoko came to visit our company in North Andover, Massachusetts, and gave it his full attention. We shared with him what we do. Brit took special interest in our RF coil design, for the RF coil is like a small RADAR, detecting the effects on cells of magnetic impulses and transmitting signals which are processed to form MRI images (in our case, images to differentiate breast cancer from normal tissue).

You may know that Brit was one of the inventors of RADAR during World War II. History teaches us that this invention saved many soldiers and civilians from air strikes by enemy planes. More than half a century later, this invention has been applied to medical technology to save people’s lives by accurately detecting cancer. This technology made the deadly cancer visible to doctors at a very early stage and allowed early effective treatment to save patients’ lives. Watching these pictures of Brit reminded me of Yo-Yo Ma. While Yo-Yo Ma’s music is soothing to one’s soul and pleasing one’s ear, Brit’s science saves lives. He fills our hearts with gratitude, I don’t think we can thank him enough and of him we will greatly miss.