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Photos: Medical imaging gets a 4D boost

Canadian researchers show off technology that produces highly detailed, larger-than-life moveable images of the human body.

The University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine spent six years developing a computerized system, called Caveman, that produces larger-than-life 3D images of the human body, and can show how the passage of time--the fourth dimension--affects the body systems being studied.

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Part of the medical school's Sun Center of Excellence for Visual Genomics, which was opened in 2002 in collaboration with Sun Microsystems, Caveman features a booth called the "Cave," where physicians, researchers, patients and students wearing special glasses can view oversize 3D images of body parts, diagnostic scans, X-rays and other objects projected by the computerized system.

The images projected by Caveman--the only such system in the world--encompass more than 3,000 distinct body parts and offer an extraordinary level of realism and detail, so much so that those in the Cave are often tempted to reach out to try to touch the virtual object. Click here to see CNET's gallery of Caveman images.