Scientists have always struggled to find an appropriate technology that could represent three-dimensional (3-D) data, facilitate dynamic analysis, and encourage on-the-fly interactivity. In the recent past, scientific visualization has increased the scientist's ability to visualize information, but it has not provided the interactive environment necessary for rapidly changing the model or for viewing the model in ways not predetermined by the visualization specialist.
Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML 2.0) is a new environment for visualizing 3-D information spaces and is accessible through the Internet with current browser technologies. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are using VRML as a scientific visualization tool to help convey complex scientific concepts to various audiences. Kevin W. Laurent, computer scientist, and Maura J. Hogan, technical information specialist, have created a collection of VRML models available through the Internet at Virtual Earth Science (virtual.er.usgs.gov).