The molecular aspects of nature are too often viewed as inaccessible and uninteresting to the general public. While the public can appreciate the beauty of a flower or a swan, the molecular basis of these organisms goes unnoticed. While scientists appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of both small and macromolecules, this is rarely communicated to the public. Consequently, the public sees molecular science as something removed from their everyday life. Even worse, much of the public associates 'chemicals' with toxins and pollution.
With support from the Camille Henry Dreyfus Foundation and the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and its supporters and alumni, this project has developed a system for displaying large-scale interactive molecules in prominent public spaces. The first such system was installed in the new Integrated Sciences Building on campus (see Current Installations for others).
The aim is to capture the public's attention and to prod individuals to explore personally a vast array of molecular structures in a human-size "molecular playground."