Do you want to learn how to hold molecules?

Hold out your arm in front of you, stretch your hand open wide, now bend your fingers in, make a fist, hold on tight……….

OMG – you are holding molecules!!

I am making the assumption that you are not stood in a vacuum or deep space as you read this blog.

I thought that It is about time that i talk to you about playing with molecules, because this is something that occupies me a lot of the time, and that is because I am working on a project with Interactive Scientific to develop an immersive education tool called the nano-glovebox (working title). This glove box is a virtual nano-world that makes the invisible world of molecules visible, and lets you interact with them. Molecules exist all around us of course, that is why you can grab them, we just can’t see them, however, people have found ways to understand them and make models of them and how they behave.

NANO BOX-4

A lot of the science that is done at a molecular level is hard to understand because it is mainly described using really crazy complicated maths or with static, dull, diagrams/symbols that attempt to show what a molecule looks like – you remember them from chemistry textbooks at school. But these images are just models to help us to start to understand, with computers getting better and better we can improve on this and show simulations of how particles behave, taking those crazy complicated maths equations and creating a visual representation of them. The representation that you can see in the picture above shows the so-called ball and stick model (for obvious reasons), what you can’t see in the picture but can see in the video below is the most important thing about molecules – they dance (well I like to see it that way), they are dynamic, if they weren’t none of life as we know it would exist.

My favourite thing to imagine is molecules in the gas phase, they move fast, so fast that even if they were big enough to see we still wouldn’t be able to actually see them because they move so fast. They vibrate, they rotate, they spiral and spin, always in motion, colliding and moving through the sky, performing a wild, spectacular, intricate dance. Our project “Danceroom Spectroscopy” shows this in a 360 degree dome.

I digress a little, this youtube video describes a bit about the project that we are currently focused on:

This is just an intro to the nano-glovebox and our work, I will talk about our motivations for doing this as a company, and mine as an individual; I will explain how I believe that science and the arts, the world and our own experiences fit together; I will tell you the meaning of life……

But not today, all that is for a later date!

Becky

xx

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