Virtual Reality consists of a 3D representation of objects, around and through which you can navigate, if you have a suitable Virtual Reality viewer, such as VRWeb (available for Unix, and now as beta version for Windows) or WebSpace (SG's).
VR objects are created using Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). The files usually have the .wrl extension, and the corresponding MIME type is x-world/x-vrml.
Molecular structures can be represented in Virtual Reality; the following chemical examples include proteins. You need a VR viewer to appreciate them, preferably configured as a helper application for your WWW browser.
General VRML links are included in this Section's Reference list.
Java is a programming language/environment. Netscape 2.0 is Java-compatible, meaning that it automatically downloads specific Java routines (called Applets) which are referenced in a page of HTML. These Applets can do all kinds of things, such as animation; but also allow input from the user at the client-end. Java Applets have been written to allow the manipulation of molecules. This means it is possible to embed interactive chemical structures within a hyperdocument, without the need for separate 'helper' applications.
For example, the following page, again maintained by Horst Vollhardt at the Technical University of Darmstadt, displays an animated Molecular Dynamics simulation. Not only that, but you can also rotate the molecule (and also request a VRML version of a snapshot). You need a Java-compatible WWW browser (such as HotJava or Netscape 2.0 onwards).
The Sun Microsystems Java Home Page provides these 3D Chemical Models
This is a commercial product which can currently be obtained freely as a prototype version; at the moment it is available only for MS Windows. It is a 'plug-in' application for Netscape, and like Java allows the embedding of interactive molecules in WWW page.
Last updated 15th Jan'97