The study of processes that make life possible is hardly a leisurely pursuit, but that doesn't preclude researchers from taking advantage of the most advanced video gaming technology available to aid in their work. A team of University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (U.I.U.C.) physicists has assembled a supercomputer consisting of several hundred superfast graphics processing units (GPUs) --typically used for rendering highly sophisticated video game graphics--that they think will help them build a simulation depicting how chromatophore proteins turn light energy into chemical energy, a process called photosynthesis. "Ninety-five percent of the energy that life on Earth requires are fueled by photosynthetic processes," says Klaus Schulten , a (U.I.U.C.) physics professor leading the simulation-building effort and director of the school's Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group . To better understand how these processes work, Schulten's team is assembling a computer-based, virtual photosynthetic chromatophore .
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