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


Students receiving a chemistry lesson via virtual reality.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. have created a virtual reality environment for biochemists.

Credit: Shutterstock

At the University of Bristol in the U.K., researchers have created a virtual reality (VR) environment that allows biochemists studying a molecule to perform simple tasks nearly 10 times faster than on a two-dimensional (2D) screen-based simulation.

The new tool allows users to experience the latest information on what scientists know about how molecules move and flex, says University of Bristol's David Glowacki.

Anyone with a virtual reality setup can access the new simulation, which runs on Oracle supercomputers.

The researchers timed users, both in VR and on computers with a touchscreen or mouse, on three molecule manipulations. For two tasks, users were significantly faster in the VR environment, while the third task took about the same time using either setup, which Glowacki suggests is because the solution was essentially a 2D movement.

The findings indicate that VR could allow scientists to learn about molecule movements much more rapidly. In addition, the new tool could allow researchers who are physically separated, such as at pharmaceutical companies or universities, to examine molecules collaboratively and simultaneously, Glowacki says.

From The New York Times
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