Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Steve Jobs and chemistry: a personal recollection.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011
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Steve Jobs death on October 5th 2011 was followed by a remarkable number of tributes and reflections on the impact the company he founded has had on the world. Many of these tributes summarise the effect as a visionary disruption. Here I describe from my own perspective some of the disruptions to chemistry I experienced (for another commentary, see here).

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Embedding molecules in blogs: ChemDoodle, WebGL and SVG

Friday, December 24th, 2010
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If you get a small rotatable molecule below, then ChemDoodle/HTML5/WebGL is working. Why might this be important? Well, the future is mobile, in other words, devices that rely on batteries or other sources of built-in power. This means the power guzzling GPU cards of the past (some reach ~400 Watts!) cannot be used. Rather than using e.g. a full power OpenGL library, one will use Web-based graphics libraries, which (to quote Wikipedia) extends the capability of the JavaScript programming language to allow it to generate interactive 3D graphics within any compatible web browser. A typical target device might be for example Apple’s iPad (for which the redoubtable Jmol, which is based on Java, is unlikely to ever work).

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Data-round-tripping: moving chemical data around.

Saturday, November 20th, 2010
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For those of us who were around in 1985, an important chemical IT innovation occurred. We could acquire a computer which could be used to draw chemical structures in one application, and via a mysterious and mostly invisible entity called the clipboard, paste it into a word processor (it was called a Macintosh). Perchance even print the result on a laserprinter. Most students of the present age have no idea what we used to do before this innovation! Perhaps not in 1985, but at some stage shortly thereafter, and in effect without most people noticing, the return journey also started working, the so-called round trip. It seemed natural that a chemical structure diagram subjected to this treatment could still be chemically edited, and that it could make the round trip repeatedly. Little did we realise how fragile this round trip might be. Years later, the computer and its clipboard, the chemistry software, and the word processor had all moved on many generations (it is important to flag that three different vendors were involved, all using proprietary formats to weave their magic). And (on a Mac at least) the round-tripping no longer worked. Upon its return to (Chemdraw in this instance), it had been rendered inert, un-editable, and devoid of semantic meaning unless a human intervened. By the way, this process of data-loss is easily demonstrated even on this blog. The chemical diagrams you see here are similarly devoid of data, being merely bit-mapped JPG images. Which is why, on many of these posts, I put in the caption Click for 3D, which gives you access to the chemical data proper (in CML or other formats). And I throw in a digital repository identifier for good measure should you want a full dataset.

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