I just heard that David Weininger had died last Wednesday, for me his invention of SMILES was one of those ideas that you instantly knew was going to change the way we did science. So much of what we do in storing, searching and analysing chemical information is based on his pioneering work. I only met him once at a Daylight UGM but it was clear from our first conversation that he was a scientist with a special insight.
SMILES as a simple yet comprehensive chemical language in which molecules and reactions can be specified using ASCII characters representing atom and bond symbols
Anthony Nicholls of OpenEye has written a lovely tribute that is well worth reading
Disabled access to technology
Hats off to Apple for putting disabled access to technology front and centre in the Apple event last night. I’m sure most of the reports will focus on the MacBook Pro but I’d like to give a mention to the accessibility help available.
The AppleStore has a page dedicated to accessibility, and the system preferences pane also has a section on Accessibility.
The Modern Alchemist
I’ve been watching the Royal Institution Christmas lectures with my family, and ever they are brilliantly presented exploration of an area of science. This year it is the turn of Peter Wothers “The Modern Alchemist” to explain about the chemicals in the air we breath and the water we drink. Hopefully inspiring the next generation of scientists and hopefully convincing people that “chemicals” far from being man-made toxins are in fact essential for all human life.
If you have ever wanted to know what the reaction of caesium with fluorine is like then have a look at lecture two.
The lectures are televised on BBC 4 and are available on iPlayer
Further behind the scenes clips and more information is available on the Royal Institution website
The two most reactive elements in the Periodic Table. In preparation for the 2012 Christmas Lectures Dr Peter Wothers heads off to the University of Leicester to conduct an extraordinary experiment - reacting the most reactive metal in the periodic table (Caesium) with the most reactive non-metal (Fluorine). Due to the extreme reactivity of the two elements, Fluorine expert Professor Eric Hope is on hand to enable the experiment to be conducted safely in a unique set of apparatus. We believe this is the first time the reaction has been caught on camera.