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Their research is “bringing better understanding to problems that couldn’t be solved experimentally,” she said. “We’re starting as scientists to better understand things like how pharmaceutical drugs interact with proteins in our body to treat diseases.”

Since the research began in the early 1970s, thousands of laboratories from all over the world have been using the computer methods to make complex calculations, according to systems and computational biology professor Jeremy Berg of the University of Pittsburgh.

New possibilities will begin to take shape for scientific research. Any research that involves increasing the speed of molecules will benefit, including plant photosynthesis, solar panels and automotive catalytic converters. “You could use it, for example, to design drugs, or just, like in my case, to satisfy your curiosity,” Mr. Wershel told reporters.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.