I just found out that my thesis advisor is working on a cool project.
There's a new science building going up at UMass Amherst (where I got my PhD) and Craig T Martin (my thesis advisor) thought it would be cool to do an art installation where molecules are projected on the walls. He also realized that it would be cool if folks could interact with these molecules.
As he says on the project's site, molecules and chemicals are sort of "inaccessible and uninteresting" to the general public. His vision is to develop a large scale "molecular playground" where folks can actually go and manipulate the molecular projections.
Craig received a grant from the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation to "develop and install in a prominent public space a system for displaying large scale interactive molecules." The molecules will be animated and artistic, so that they can be appreciated even without direct manipulation.
Craig is collaborating with Allen Hanson from the UMass Amherst Computer Science Department.
Cool. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
And check out the video of a demo of the concept (below). The protein is HU, found in the bacterial nucleoid and involved in chromosome compaction. It makes a dramatic kink in DNA, and does some funky things. Check out the tongues going down the grooves on the opposite surface of the DNA. That's a tight grip. There more to it, though. You can manipulate the molecule yourself (with some explanations) on Craig's site.