Henry Rzepa's Blog Chemistry with a twist

December 29, 2018

Re-inventing the anatomy of a research article.

The traditional structure of the research article has been honed and perfected for over 350 years by its custodians, the publishers of scientific journals. Nowadays, for some journals at least, it might be viewed as much as a profit centre as the perfected mechanism for scientific communication. Here I take a look at the components of such articles to try to envisage its future, with the focus on molecules and chemistry.


May 29, 2017

Curating a nine year old journal FAIR data table.

As the Internet and its Web-components age, so early pages start to decay as technology moves on. A few posts ago, I talked about the maintenance of a relatively simple page first hosted some 21 years ago. In my notes on the curation, I wrote the phrase “Less successful was the attempt to include buttons which could be used to annotate the structures with highlights. These buttons no longer work and will have to be entirely replaced in the future at some stage.” Well, that time has now come, for a rather more crucial page associated with a journal article published more recently in 2009.[1]



  1. H.S. Rzepa, "Wormholes in chemical space connecting torus knot and torus link π-electron density topologies", Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., vol. 11, pp. 1340-1345, 2009. http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/b810301a

October 31, 2016

The smallest C-C-C angle?

Is asking a question such as “what is the smallest angle subtended at a chain of three connected 4-coordinate carbon atoms” just seeking another chemical record, or could it unearth interesting chemistry?


August 17, 2016

Journal innovations – the next step is augmented reality?

In the previous post, I noted that a chemistry publisher is about to repeat an earlier experiment in serving pre-prints of journal articles. It would be fair to suggest that following the first great period of journal innovation, the boom in rapid publication “camera-ready” articles in the 1960s, the next period of rapid innovation started around 1994 driven by the uptake of the World-Wide-Web. The CLIC project[1] aimed to embed additional data-based components into the online presentation of the journal Chem Communications, taking the form of pop-up interactive 3D molecular models and spectra. The Internet Journal of Chemistry was designed from scratch to take advantage of this new medium.[2] Here I take a look at one recent experiment in innovation which incorporates “augmented reality”.[3]



  1. D. James, B.J. Whitaker, C. Hildyard, H.S. Rzepa, O. Casher, J.M. Goodman, D. Riddick, and P. Murray‐Rust, "The case for content integrity in electronic chemistry journals: The CLIC project", New Review of Information Networking, vol. 1, pp. 61-69, 1995. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13614579509516846
  2. S.M. Bachrach, and S.R. Heller, "TheInternet Journal of Chemistry:A Case Study of an Electronic Chemistry Journal", Serials Review, vol. 26, pp. 3-14, 2000. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00987913.2000.10764578
  3. S. Ley, B. Musio, F. Mariani, E. Śliwiński, M. Kabeshov, and H. Odajima, "Combination of Enabling Technologies to Improve and Describe the Stereoselectivity of Wolff–Staudinger Cascade Reaction", Synthesis, vol. 48, pp. 3515-3526, 2016. http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0035-1562579

March 5, 2011

Lapis lazuli: the colour of ultramarine.

My colleague Bill Griffith has again come up with another colour challenge: that of the ancient semi-precious stone Lapis Lazuli, mined in the mountains of Afghanistan for more than 6000 years and used by painters in some medieval paintings of the Virgin, the Wilton diptych etc.


December 24, 2010

Embedding molecules in blogs: ChemDoodle, WebGL and SVG

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).


December 7, 2010

Data-round-tripping: wherein the future?

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).


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