EDUCATION: Virtual Molecule Kit

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Science  08 Dec 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5498, pp. 1851
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5498.1851a

Need a high-resolution model of melatonin or TNT for a lecture or publication? At this site you can generate a nifty ball-and-stick model that looks so realistic, it even shows light glinting off the plastic spheres.

The tool, which makes the models on a supercomputer (actually, a cluster of PCs), is the latest addition at the Indiana University Molecular Structure Center. Chemists and materials scientists visit the site to download x-ray crystallographic data on the structure of organic and inorganic molecules, such as superconductors. But the site is also a big hit among students and the public drawn to a section called Common Molecule Pages. There you'll find 3D models of various types for nearly 300 molecules, from lysine (an amino acid) to strychnine (rat poison) to buckyballs.

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