A computer simulation is a computer model that shows the behavior or properties of an object or system over time. Computer simulations provide access to systems, objects, or phenomena that cannot normally be manipulated, such as hurricanes, traffic patterns, or the behavior of atoms. With advances in computing power, simulations are increasingly used in science, particularly in modeling nanoscale phenomena. Simulations provide a way to visualize not just the object being studied, but it's behavior.
The Visualization Lab created three immersive simulations of the nanoscale: Three Drops, Crystals, and Diffusion. In Three Drops, by the Exploratorium and Snibbe Interactive, visitors can use their shadows to explore the behavior of water at three size scales. Crystals and Diffusion, by the New York Hall of Science, Main Street Science, and Zack Booth-Simpson, give visitors an opportunity to control virtual chemical reactions with their bodies. These large-scale, immersive simulations allow visitors to use their hands or shadows to play with water molecules at three size scales (Three Drops), nucleate the formation of ice crystals (Crystals), or cause chemical reactions (Diffusion).