Home Technology It’s Time for a Chemistry Lesson. Put on Your Virtual Reality Goggles.

It’s Time for a Chemistry Lesson. Put on Your Virtual Reality Goggles.

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A new tool allows researchers to manipulate molecules in three dimensions, recalling physical models used to visualize forests of atoms in the past.

There was a time when biochemists had a lot in common with sculptors. Scientists who had devoted their lives to studying a molecule would building a model, using metal and a forest of rods to hold up the structure of thousands of atoms. John Kendrew, who won the Nobel Prize in 1962 and was known for his model of myoglobin, said, “Slow work, but at the end you really know the molecule.”

These days simulations on screens have replaced Kendrew-style models, sacrificing some of their tactile value while gaining the ability to show movement. But what if you could enter a virtual reality environment where the molecules lie before you, obeying all the laws of molecular physics as calculated by supercomputers, and move them around in three dimensions?

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