When it comes to hands-on learning, I can think of no classroom more compelling than a gross anatomy lab, where students of the human form dissect actual bodies from head-to-toe with their own hands. That being said, this virtual dissection table is an awfully impressive stand-in for the real thing.

While exploring the human body on a virtual dissection table means foregoing the tactile experience of a true dissection, there's a lot to be said for this simulated experience, developed by Anatomage and Stanford University's Division of Clinical Anatomy. The tabletop display, for example, allows for an unlimited number of students to explore cadavers exhibiting a range of pathologies any number of times, in a highly adaptive 3D environment. There's no fear of snipping the wrong thing, no need to suture the cadaver, and you don't have to wheel it in and out of cold storage every time you want to explore.

That being said, many people would likely argue that these real-world considerations are precisely why the dissection of actual human cadavers is such an important experience to any student of anatomy – and I'd be inclined to agree. Still, it's easy to imagine how making digital cadavers available for exploration (perhaps in addition to actual bodies) could provide an enormous educational and inspirational boost, whether it's for kids in primary school first learning about the body, or college anatomy majors, or first year med students. Now if we could find a way to integrate this technology with Figure 1, the newly released medical photo sharing app:

[Stanford Anatomy via Boing Boing]