Science, Technology

HTML5 + molecular visulations = win

Today I was looking into HTML5 (as one does), when I came across an incredible site: CANVASMOL.

canvasmol screenshot
(click to enlarge)

HTML5 is the newest incarnation of HTML (the language in which large bits of the web are written*).  What has people extremely excited about it is that one no longer needs to embed things like video players in website if one is writing in HTML5.  Such functionalities are built in.  Which is why Apple devices don’t currently support, for example, (Adobe’s) Flash.  They say.

And I’m going to leave that there, as it’s a very thorny nest of thorns :)  Also, it’s not the point of this post - other people have written much about it, and a simple search should suffice to sate your…well, curiosity :)

_Anyway_.  CANVASMOL!

A very cool site allowing one to have a look at a variety of different molecules.  In different ways (and one can compare a few at a time, too!).  One can also upload new ones, of course, because one never spend too much time getting wiggly happy fingers over such things. To change the view of a molecule, simply play with the letters/acronyms (beginning X Y Z, which control rotation) at the bottom of the square containing said molecule.

The screenshot above shows oxytocin, which is most famously known as being one of the ‘bonding’ neurotransmitters which are responsible for us feeling all loved-up.  In romantic or parental ways, as well as others.  Hell, I’m pretty sure the Ragdoll cats* belonging to friends of mine cause teh production in humans of ridiculous amounts of the stuff (plus their being high on it constantly).

The others are all fun, too.  I always find looking at buckyballs*** and graphene particularly oooohsome, of course.

Love it.  The site, that is.  Stunning use of in-browser stuff. Wish I’d had things like this when I was studying molecular biology :)


* Huge oversimplification

** The first truly domesticated cat, in which all those feral/killer instincts have been replaced with pure Cuddly.  It’s ridiculous.

*** For a pretty cool explanation of a 120-cell, which is basically a 4 dimensional shape made of 120 dodecahedra (a buckyball is a dodecahedron), see this animation.  Oh, also - behold!  A video tutorial on made a buckyball _out of origami_.  Because you know you want to.

  • Grant Jacobs

    It’s great to see these things working directly in HTML5 (i.e. without requiring Java applets, etc.), but to give credit to pioneers (as it were) earlier molecular viewers, e.g. Chime, JMol, etc., have been around for while. There are an embarrassing number of on-line molecular viewers if you look around! :-)

  • aimee whitcroft

    yup, well aware of it. the post was showing, in a scientific context, how awesome HTML5 was :)