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This evening, surgeon Jerome Johnson plans to assist in the removal of a gallbladder in Ohio — but he will do so by high-speed video in front of a roomful of invited spectators at Union Station. The operation might not make the most appetizing dinner-time spectacle, but it will preview a new era of Internet collaboration between the nation’s leading universities and corporations.

Johnson will be virtually transported to a Columbus operating room, where he will commune in real time with the lead surgeon through a pioneering research and education computer network to be launched today. Its creators hope the new network, called the Abilene Project, will give rise to the successor to today’s Internet, an ultra-high-speed system with vastly superior video and audio capabilities.

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