Virtual-reality applications give science a new dimension

Virtual- and augmented-reality tools allow researchers to view and share data as never before. But so far, they remain largely the tools of early adopters.

As I put on a virtual-reality (VR) headset, the outside world disappears. A cell fills my visual field, and as I crane my neck, I can see it from several angles. I stick my head inside to explore its internal structure. Using hand controllers, I dissect the cell layer by layer, excavating with a flick of the wrist to uncover tiny, specialized structures buried beneath the surface.

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