Posts Tagged ‘Chemical IT’

Data-round-tripping: wherein the future?

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Moving (chemical) data around in a manner which allows its (automated) use in whichever context it finds itself must be a holy grail for all scientists and chemists. I posted earlier on the fragile nature of molecular diagrams making the journey between the editing program used to create them (say ChemDraw) and the Word processor used to place them into a context (say Microsoft office), via an intermediate storage area known as the clipboard. The round trip between the Macintosh (OS X) versions of these programs had been broken a little while, but it is now fixed! A small victory. This blog reports what happened when such a Mac-created Word document is sent to someone using Microsoft Windows as an OS (or vice versa).


Data-round-tripping: moving chemical data around.

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

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.


Semantically rich molecules

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Peter Murray-Rust in his blog asks for examples of the Scientific Semantic Web, a topic we have both been banging on about for ten years or more (DOI: 10.1021/ci000406v). What we are seeking of course is an example of how scientific connections have been made using inference logic from semantically rich statements to be found on the Web (ideally connections that might not have previously been spotted by humans, and lie overlooked and unloved in the scientific literature). Its a tough cookie, and I look forward to the examples that Peter identifies. Meanwhile, I thought I might share here a semantically rich molecule. OK, I identified this as such not by using the Web, but as someone who is in the process of delivering an undergraduate lecture course on the topic of conformational analysis. This course takes the form of presenting a set of rules or principles which relate to the conformations of molecules, and which themselves derive from quantum mechanics, and then illustrating them with selected annotated examples. To do this, a great many semantic connections have to be made, and in the current state of play, only a human can really hope to make most of these. We really look to the semantic web as it currently is to perhaps spot a few connections that might have been overlooked in this process. So, below is a molecule, and I have made a few semantic connections for it (but have not actually fully formalised them in this blog; that is a different topic I might return to at some time). I feel in my bones that more connections could be made, and offer the molecule here as the fuse!


WebCite and Jmol

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Since I have gotten into the habit of quoting some of my posts in other contexts, I have started to also archive them using WebCite. One can quote the resulting archive as:


To blog or to publish. That is the question.

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Scientists write blogs for a variety of reasons. But these do probably not include getting tenure (or grants). For that one has to publish. And I will argue here that a blog is not currently accepted as a scientific publication (for more discussion on this point, see this article by Maureen Pennock and Richard Davis). For chemists, publication means in a relatively small number of high-impact journals. Anything more than five articles a year in such journals, and your tenure is (probably) secure (if not your funding).


Semantic Blogs

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

A Semantic blog is one in which the system at least in part understands about (some of the) concepts and topics that are in the content. The idea is that this content can be more intelligently (is that the correct word?) and importantly, automatically searched, harvested, and connected to the same or similar concepts found elsewhere in other blogs and the Web as whole. I am writing this blog using Firefox, having added a Firefox extension called Zemanta. As I write, the system offers suggestions for similar themes elsewhere that I could choose to link to the blog (and obviously the more one writes, or the more specific the terms one uses, the more sensible the suggestions become. At this precise moment, it is still offering fairly generic suggestions, one of which I have just chosen to add). My purpose in this particular post is to explore how the very process of writing a blog might be affected by such a product. I am also inferring (but cannot add detail at the moment) that all the (semantic) connections or links to other materials will be expressed in this blog using some form of formal declaration, such as e.g. RDF or RDFa.


How long will a blog last? ArchivePress

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

After around 40 posts here, I decided to take a look at the whole effort and ask some questions. For example

Spotting the unexpected: Anomeric effects

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Chemistry can be very focussed nowadays. This especially applies to target-driven synthesis, where the objective is to make a specified molecule, in perhaps as an original manner as possible. A welcome, but not always essential aspect of such syntheses is the discovery of new chemistry. In this blog, I will suggest that the focus on the target can mean that interesting chemistry can get over-looked (or if observed, not fully exploited in subsequent publications). Taking a synthesis-oriented publication at (almost) random entitled Synthesis of 1-Oxadecalins from Anisole Promoted by Tungsten (DOI: 10.1021/ja803605m) which appeared in 2008, the following molecule appears as one of the (many) intermediates.


(Hyper)activating the chemistry journal.

Monday, September 7th, 2009

The science journal is generally acknowledged as first appearing around 1665 with the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in London and (simultaneously) the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. By the turn of the millennium, around 10,000 science and medical journals were estimated to exist. By then, the Web had been around for a decade, and most journals had responded to this new medium by re-inventing themselves for it. For most part, they adopted a format which emulated paper (Acrobat), with a few embellishments (such as making the text fully searchable) and then used the Web to deliver this new reformulation of the journal. Otherwise, Robert Hooke would have easily recognized the medium he helped found in the 17th century.


The Fragile Web

Monday, August 31st, 2009

One of the many clever things that clever people can do with the Web is harvest it, aggregate it, classify it etc. Its not just Google that does this sort of thing! Egon Willighagen is one of those clever people. He runs the Chemical blogspace which does all sorts of amazing things with blogs.