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Physical chemistry

Touching Molecules With Your Bare Hands: Scripps Research Scientists Describe New Way of Interacting with the Unseen World of Proteins and DNA. 

A group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has developed a new way of looking at and interacting with molecules so small that they cannot be seen even with the world’s most powerful microscopes.

The new technology, which combines hand-held objects with sophisticated computer displays, is called Tangible Interfaces for Structural Molecular Biology, and its creators envision it as a technology useful for both educational and scientific research.

They are combining 3D-printing of the molecules with computational chemistry to do things chemists (and engineers) have dreamed of for years.  They get the fun of manipulating a physical object with the computational power to back them up and tell them when they are trying to move the object in a way it doesn't like.  I suppose the next step in this work is to add direct force feedback, instead of displaying it graphically. 

[via ACM TechNews]

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