UCL News


Easter Eggs Live

1 April 2013

Easter Egg

Researchers at the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI) have embarked on a rather unique Easter egg hunt and have been scanning chicken eggs for a new Channel 4 programme called Easter Eggs Live.

CABI scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to peer beneath the shell of a developing chicken egg to visualise the growth and position of the chick as it prepares to hatch.

Professor Mark Lythgoe, Director of CABI, said: “This collaboration builds on previous work in CABI, where we have used high resolution MRI to image embryos and search for genes involved with hole in the heart in babies. Here, we have captured a unique view of the chick’s final movements after it has ruptured the air sac and prepares to hatch using an MRI scanner.”

The egg was secured in a bed of cotton wool to keep it safe and warm, before scanning commenced. This was also a rare opportunity for the camera crew to film in close proximity to the MRI scanner to capture footage of the egg entering the magnet.

“The egg was scanned several times over the course of the gestation," said Holly Holmes, a researcher at CABI. "The images were used to generate a 3D animation of the chick breaking into the air sac and breathing for the first time, before the hatching process began.”

The CABI chick was born on Friday 15th March, and is safe and well. One of the researchers who worked on the project, Dr Bernard Siow, grew rather attached to her and has decided to give her a new home in Wembley.

This work was carried out in partnership with Jamie Lochhead and Kelly Neaves at Windfall Films and Jon Heras at Equinox Graphics Ltd for a Channel 4 programme, Easter Eggs Live.


UCL Centre for Advanced Brain Imaging
Easter Eggs Live