Scientifically Measuring A Sitting Butt With An MRI Machine

You'll never guess what lab this research came from.

FONAR Upright MRI Machine

So you can scan someone while she sitsFONAR

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, a team of four scientists put together a paper about scanning a healthy lady's butt with an MRI machine. They team wanted to measure what happened to her buttocks when she sat. This fantastic tale might have been lost among the millions of scientific papers that are published every year, but luckily, Discover magazine's "Seriously, Science?" blog found it.

You can read the paper's abstract at "Seriously, Science?" or right in PubMed, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's extensive database of biology and medicine papers. In short, sitting moves your butt muscles around and flattens them. SS/PubMed can tell you how, exactly.

Other relevant points we discovered:

  • The first two authors of the paper are from the Rehabilitation Engineering and Applied Research (REAR) Lab. We are not kidding, this is a real lab at Georgia Tech. Lab members normally study things like how to prevent ulcers from extensive wheelchair use and how to design better wheelchairs, all admirable goals.
  • Another author, John Winder of the University of Ulster in the U.K., specializes in medical imaging. His other publications include "The establishment of a 3D breast photography service in medical illustration" and "'Virtual unwrapping' of a mummified hand."
  • Scientists have long studied how sitting affects the buttocks. Such research goes into reducing ulcers in paraplegics and into designing better chairs.
  • If you perform a Google Scholar search for "buttocks," you might find this patent, which seems like it could really make an impression with the middle school set.