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Definition: scientific visualization

Using the computer to display real-world objects that cannot normally be seen, such as the shapes of molecules, air and fluid dynamics and weather patterns. Scientific visualization requires enormous computing resources, and the supercomputer centers and national laboratories throughout the world are always at the forefront of such activity. See visualization.

Visualizing the Structure of Protein
The picture on the left is the x-ray diffraction pattern of an apilopoprotein E3 protein crystal, which plays a major role in cholesterol metabolism. The tiny spots are the x-ray reflections from the crystal, which are used to reconstruct the electron density of atoms (right).

Next Stage - The Structure Model
The colored sticks are the detailed 3-dimensional structure models of the molecule that were fitted into the actual electron density (blue grid-like areas). This stereo image appears 3D when viewed cross-eyed.

The Final Ribbon Model
Using visualization techniques, the overall 3D four-helix bundle structure of the molecule is represented as a ribbon model. The 3D image of this molecule helps researchers better understand it and its interaction with other molecules. (Images courtesy of Dr. Bernhard Rupp, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Dr. Karl H. Weisgraber, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease.)