CORVALLIS - Students at Oregon State University will soon gain a new, more compelling and far more understandable view of the world of molecules.

A $43,000 "stereographics classroom" is being set up by the OSU Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, with support from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences.

This facility will provide a "virtual reality" type view of three dimensional molecular structures to large groups of undergraduate and graduate students.

"This should really improve student understanding of molecular structure," said P. Shing Ho, an OSU professor of biochemistry and biophysics. "Textbooks are flat. But this is a visually dynamic system that can let an instructor rotate the molecule, zoom in and out and really show students the molecule in a way they never could see before."

The classroom itself consists of a computer workstation to display and manipulate molecular structures in real time, which are then projected onto a screen as rapidly alternating left and right- eye stereo-images.

When viewed by students through "liquid crystal display," or LCD eye glasses that are synchronized to the projection, the image on the screen appears truly three-dimensional.

Other support for the classroom came from the College of Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Grant for Undergraduate Instruction in Biological Sciences, the OSU Center for Gene Research and Biotechnology, and OSU Information Services.

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P. Shing Ho, 541-737-2769