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The Nucleus I Like Best

by Greg Crowther, Do Peterson, Adam Ludwig, and Claudia McLaughlin


Lyrics

There's 15N, 39K, 19F, and also 13C,
But of all the atoms East to West, the nucleus I like best is 31P.
Proton spins are everywhere, and MRIs reveal their density.
But all that leaves me unimpressed; the nucleus I like best is 31P.

Take a limb, get it shimmed, and sample from the muscles that you see.
A spectrum lets you quantify the PCr, Pi, and ATP.
Cell pH can be deduced from the inorganic phosphate frequency;
You can likewise measure magnesium using the chemical shift of ATP.

If you scan a leg or hand during stimulation and recovery,
The spectra let you find the rates of using and creating ATP.
Now NMR can take you far beyond this type of phosphate chemistry,
But I've come clean and I've confessed -- the nucleus I like best is 31P.


Comments

This is a partisan piece on the joys of phosphorus NMR spectroscopy. It was written for the April 20001 meeting of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. The "percussion" in the song consists of actual sounds generated by a 1.5-Tesla NMR machine.