March 1, 2007 (Vol. 27, No. 5)
Strong Points: Ambitious idea
Weak Points: Still in development
Virtual life projects have been around since the early days of personal computing. As computers have gotten more sophisticated, so too have these applications. An interesting cousin of these efforts is the subject of this rather unusual site, The Ribosome Builder Project. Aiming to design a software program to simulate structural models of the macromolecules comprising the ribosome, along with a simple molecular dynamics approach that keeps an eye on bond lengths, angles, and steric exclusions, the Ribosome Builder Project may be an important step in actually modeling a single cell. A program has, in fact, been released by the site’s designer, William Knight, and it can be downloaded from the site. As an open-source project, the software can be expected to grow and improve with time. If you’re a programmer and are interested in modeling living systems, this is a must see.