In today’s church bulletin

Vintage mammography phantom

Just about every medical physicist has a collection of old test gear, phantoms, test objects ,meters and the like.

A few years ago, while rummaging through the equipment cabinet in our store room/library/lab, I came across a variant of a mammography phantom that I hadn’t seen before. Instead of the normal pink wax insert, this one had 16 wax squares of different colours.

Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015
Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015

Aside from the curved bit of plastic at one end of the phantom (a test object, not a ghostly apparition), it’s the same size as the conventional ACR accreditation phantom. Reminds me of one of those sliding number/picture puzzles where you have to slide the squares around to reconstruct the image.

Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015
Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015 side view

I let it sit on my book shelf along with some of the other pieces in the collection. A few months ago, I decided it was time to have a look and see what the inside of the wax blocks looked like.

Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015
Old RMI mammography phantom SN 152-1015

Looks like at some point in its history, the pieces got a little scrambled and reinserted a bit randomly. I was expecting that each colour block would represent a different density. Instead there are the usual fiber, speck, and mass groups, but not nearly as uniformly placed as in the accreditation phantom.

I don’t know how old this phantom is or what time frame it might have been used at work. The only mammography phantom I was familiar with before this one was the pink one, so possibly before 1996 at least. Definitely pre-1999.

If anybody out there happens to know anything about this style of mammography phantom, let me know.

Getting Lucky

Sometimes you come across some interesting novelty books. Some selected excerpts from Luck: The Essential Guide.

An empty hornet’s nest, hung high, is a good-luck charm for the whole family.

An occupied one, probably not so much.

The cardinal rule for the New Year’s meal in Sicily is this: good luck comes only to those who eat lasagna. Those who eat fettuccine, macaroni, fusilli, tagliatelle, or any other pasta do so at their own risk

This is a tradition I could get used to.

When in Rome: Stay away from nuns. If a nun can’t be avoided, touch iron (knocking on wood Italian-style) immediately after seeing one to preserve good fortune. You can also do as the Italians do and mutter “Your nun!” to the next person you see, passing the nun (and therefore the bad luck) to someone else.

When in Japan: Pay attention to the first person you meet each morning. If it’s a woman, you’ll have good luck, but if it’s a Buddhist priest, you’re in for a bad day.

I wonder what it is with religious figures…

Try selling  your health problem to a friend. Offer to give her a good deal – say, a buck fifty – on your tendonitis. Some believe that the evil spirits that control the illness will get confused as to who should actually have it and the problem will go away.

Those spirits are pretty gullible. T2 diabetes anyone? I can give you a great deal.