GROPE

GROPE, by Frederick Brooks 1967 North Carolina

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Project GROPE, started in 1967 at the University of North Carolina by Frederick Brooks, was particularly noteworthy for the advancements it made possible in the study of molecular biology. Brooks sought to enhance perception and comprehension of the interaction of a drug molecule with its receptor site on a protein by creating a window into the virtual world of molecular docking forces. He combined wire-frame imagery to represent molecules and physical forces with “haptic” (tactile) feedback mediated through special hand-grip devices to arrange the virtual molecules into a minimum binding energy configuration. Scientists using this system felt their way around the represented forces like flight trainees learning the instruments in a Link cockpit, “grasping” the physical situations depicted in the virtual world and hypothesizing new drugs based on their manipulations.

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