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E. Virtual Reality: More Than Just A Game

Narrator: Ever look around inside a molecule? This is Science Today. Scientific visualization is Mike Bailey's specialty at the University of California, San Diego. He turns dry data into pictures so scientists can better understand what the data mean. These days he uses a new tool -- virtual reality -- which has the advantage of allowing you to tilt your head as you look around at things. That's more important than it sounds.

Bailey: If you notice sometime, next time you're looking at something 3D that you've never seen before, notice how much you start cocking your head. It's that little bit of offset that gives you very powerful cues about what's there as you're trying to understand the shape. In scientific visualization, we do this all the time, whether it's molecules or atmospheric data or chemistry or engineering, we're always trying to better understand what the 3D display is trying to tell us. And the ability to turn your head, cock your head, look over here, move over there just gives you a little bit more clue about what's involved.

Narrator: Bailey says virtual reality isn't quite a mainstream scientific tool yet, but it's certainly more than a game. For Science Today, I'm Steve Tokar.