Coming Soon to a Lab Near You: Drag-and-Drop Virtual Worlds

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Science  11 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6018, pp. 669-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6018.669

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A group of researchers at Microsoft hopes to transform the way scientists study complex, ever-changing systems, such as the global carbon cycle and information processing inside cells. To do so, they're working to develop a suite of new software tools including novel programming languages that better represent biological systems and computer models that work across multiple scales, simulating carbon budgets at the levels of leaves, trees, and forests, for example. They're also striving to make those tools simple to use, thereby extending the types of studies that can be done by researchers who aren't full-time programmers. Prototype versions of several of these tools are now up and running and being put through their paces by researchers at Microsoft.