THE GALLERY - Technology


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The technology used to mount and run this course, and the previous interactive course in C++, is a very important development in the use of Internet-related software for distance education.

Displaying and Manipulating Structures

Students use a technology called Chemical MIME (Multimedia Internet Mail Enclosures) to "fire up" molecular visualisation programs automatically every time they select a file containing molecular coordinates. Once this is set up, the students can manipulate molecules on the screen while reading the associated course material. Students are encouraged to set this software up for themselves, but plenty of help is available.

Databases and Software

Not even an expert can expect to have detailed knowledge of more than the smallest part of modern molecular biology. The use of databases is becoming increasingly important for all researchers in the bio-sciences. Students on this course rapidly become expert in searching on-line databases.

A few important databases are listed here. Where a link to software for searching a database is not shown, it is possible to search the database from the Web link to the database itself.

Databases of Protein Structure

Databases of Gene and Protein Sequence and Function

Ethan Benatan and Cornelius Krasel maintain a comprehensive page of links to protein-structure related databases.

Email Discussion Lists

Seven main email discussion lists have been set up to enable students, consulting-students and consultants on the course to communicate with each other.

Some archived previous postings are kept available on the Web.

Real Time Communication - BioMOO

Technology for MUDs and MOOs was originally developed for multi-user, interactive Internet-based role-playing games - hence the original meaning of the acronym MUD - "Multi-User Dungeon". A MUD is a "virtual meeting place" which contains people who move through "rooms" and interact with the "objects" they find there - and with each other - rather like they would in real life (!) A MOO ("MUD - Object Oriented") is a MUD which contains a sophisticated, object-based inbuilt programming language.

The potential for using this technology in distance education is now being realised.

BioMOO was set up in 1994 by Gustavo Glusman as a "virtual meeting place" for bioscientists. Members of the PPS course hold "meetings" and even "parties" in the BioMOO, and some groups have "built" their own "rooms" within the MOO environment.

A graphical interface to BioMOO is available. This is an example image of a screen captured during a graphical BioMOO session.

Link to the Technology Page of the VSNS-PPS Course

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