The Who, What, When, Where and Why of Chemistry
Chemistry is not a world unto itself. It is woven firmly into the fabric of the rest of the world, and various fields, from literature to archeology, thread their way through the chemist's text.
My interest in MRI has become less academic. I need an MRI of my hand. The orthopedic surgeon noted in passing that they will mark the spot of interest with a capsule of vitamin E, in the same way that they use lead markers in X-rays. I wondered what was so special about the vitamin E that left a trace in the MRI. Turns out that the spin-lattice relaxation time (T1) of the H's in tocopherol's chain of -CH2s is very short, and provides a high intensity signal which can be used to mark the spot. Mineral oil will work, too, but the vitamin E capsules are convenient.