Nanoscape, a data-driven 3D real-time interactive virtual cell environment

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Our understanding of cellular and structural biology has reached unprecedented levels of detail, and computer visualisation techniques can be used to create three-dimensional (3D) representations of cells and their environment that are useful in both teaching and research. However, extracting and integrating the relevant scientific data, and then presenting them in an effective way, can pose substantial computational and aesthetic challenges. Here we report how computer artists, experts in computer graphics and cell biologists have collaborated to produce a tool called Nanoscape that allows users to explore and interact with 3D representations of cells and their environment that are both scientifically accurate and visually appealing. We believe that using Nanoscape as an immersive learning application will lead to an improved understanding of the complexities of cellular scales, densities and interactions compared with traditional learning modalities.

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