In 1992, when I was working at the National Institutes of Health, I wrote a review article about magnetic stimulation with my boss’s boss, Murray Eden. We submitted it to IEEE Potentials, a magazine aimed at engineering students. I liked our review, but somehow we never heard back from the journal. I pestered them a few times, and finally gave up and focused on other projects. I hate to waste anything, however, so I give the manuscript to you, dear readers (click here). It’s well written (thanks to our editor Barry Bowman, who improved many of my papers from that era) and describes the technique clearly. You can use it to augment the discussion in Section 8.7 (Magnetic Stimulation) in Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology. Unfortunately the article is out of date by almost thirty years.

I reproduce the title page and abstract below.

Eden was our fearless leader in the Biomedical Engineering and Instrumentation Program. He was an interesting character. You can learn more about him in an oral history available at the Engineering and Technology History Wiki. In our program, Eden was known for his contribution to barcodes. He was on the committee to design the ubiquitous barcode that you find on almost everything you buy nowadays. Just when the design was almost complete, Eden piped up and said they should include written numbers at the bottom of the barcode, just in case the barcode reader was down. There they have been, ever since (thank goodness!). I didn’t work too closely with Eden; I generally interacted with him through my boss, Seth Goldstein (inventor of the everting catheter). But Eden suggested we write the article, and I was a young nobody at NIH, so of course I said yes.

In Eden’s oral history interview, you can read about the unfortunate end of his tenure leading BEIP.

The world changed and I got a new director in the division, a woman who had been Director of Boston City Hospital’s Clinical Research Center. She and I battled a good deal and I just didn’t like it. By this time I was well over seventy and I said, “Okay, the hell with it. I’m going to retire.” I retired in the spring of ’94. It’s a very sad thing; I don’t like to talk about it very much. My program was essentially destroyed. A few years thereafter NIH administration took my program out of her control. They are currently trying to build the program up again, but most of the good people left.

I was one of the people who left. That woman who became the division director (I still can’t bring myself to utter her name) made it clear that all of us untenured people would not have our positions renewed, which is why I returned to academia after seven wonderful years at NIH. I shouldn’t complain. I’ve had an excellent time here at Oakland University and have no regrets, but 1994–1995 was a frustrating time for me.

After I left NIH, I stopped working on magnetic stimulation. I was incredibly lucky be at NIH at a time when medical doctors were just starting to use the technique and needed a physicist to help. Even now, my most highly cited paper is from my time at NIH working on magnetic stimulation.

Originally published at

Professor of Physics at Oakland University and coauthor of the textbook Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology.