The National Library of Medicine’s Visible Human Project®.” has created an astounding collection of over 18,000 anatomical, three-dimensional images of normal male and female human bodies. Using techniques such as CT (Computerized Tomography), MR (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and cryosection images the project has provided a stunning array of images and video that were never before available for viewing by scientists and the general public. To see another VERY cool video of a “melt through of the human body”, click here . You will need Real Player to view these clips (download free version of Real Player by going to http://www.real.com/freeplayer)
Computerized Tomography is the process of using computerized digital processing to generate a three-dimensional image of the internal organs using a series of two-dimensional x-ray images. The individual x-ray image “slices” are taken using a x-ray tube that rotates around the object taking many scans as the body is moved through the gantry. The scans from each 360 degree sweep are processed to produce a single cross-section. The word “tomography” is derived from the Greek tomos (slice) and graphia (describing).
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a technique for creating images of organs inside living organisms. It is primarily used to visualize pathology or other abnormalities in living tissues and is now a commonly used form of medical imaging.
The male cadaver used in the Visible Human Project was from Joseph Paul Jernigan, a 38-year-old Texas convicted murderer who was executed by lethal injection on August 5, 1993. He donated his body for scientific research at the recommendation of the prison pastor. Some people have expressed ethical concerns over this. The female donor remains anonymous.
The male cadaver was frozen and cut into 1,871 axial slices (1 mm) which were photographed and digitized yielding more than 65 gigabytes of data! The female cadaver was cut into 0.3 mm slices yielding some 40 gigabytes of data.
The goal of the Visible Human Project was to produce images that contribute to our knowledge of human anatomy for medical, educational, and research purposes. Continuing discoveries are being made as a result of this project.