A dog named Ethyl

I was showing some springy applets to my friend Lee Tremblay, who is a biochemist and composer, and Lee said it would be cool if people could construct and play with springy 3D molecules.

Actual molecules have all sorts of forces between their atoms that make them want to take on certain shapes. In an accurate simulation of a molecule, moving one atom would cause the other atoms to move around in very particular ways.

But I didn’t want to take all that on in one evening. So I figured that today I’d just build the computer graphics part of it, and then Lee and I could put in the proper forces later. So today I’ve just added 3D to my little springy ball and stick model, as well as the ability to change size and color of each “atom”.

The frisky little critter below with three legs and two tails is not, appearances to the contrary, a Martian dog. But it is the 3D shape of a molecule of ethyl alcohol — the same alcohol that leads us humans to have unexpected fun and sometimes unexpected babies.

Well, maybe it is a Martian dog, and maybe her name is Ethyl. You can try out the new 3D version of my springy thingy toy by clicking on Ethyl below.


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