HST graduate student Chris Connor recently received a free computer and a little free publicity from Intel when he agreed to try the new Pentium 4 processor for his computationally intensive research. The company found Mr. Connor through his research advisor, Kullervo Hynynen of Harvard.
Intel's Pentium 4 processor web site now features a video clip of Mr. Connor talking about his research, which involves the use of untrasound as a surgical tool for treating brain tumors noninvasively. His goal is to focus the ultrasonic waves into a single point inside the skull to destroy tumor tissue. Because the bones of the skull distort the focus, Mr. Connor wishes to determine the structure, shape and composition of the skull using high-resolution CT images. He'll then take that distortion into account when focussing the ultrasound.
"There are hideous amounts of computation required" for his research, said Mr. Connor, a PhD candidate in health sciences and technology. "In terms of raw computing power, I didn't find the Pentium 4 to be a huge improvement over the Pentium 3, but for some applications it was better, such as rendering graphics. So I was cautiously optimistic."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 14, 2001.