Nuclear Chemistry and Web 2.0

Mitch Garcia interviewBerkeley nuclear chemist Mitch André Garcia is very much a modern chemist. He is not content with the staid old laboratory notebook and blotchy ballpoint in his labcoat. No! Garcia is a web-chemist.

Aside from his excellent work on the chemistry of the element rutherfordium, he has created a network of chemistry websites that provide answers to an almost unthinkable number of questions about the science (actually, there are about 1000 Q and A), offer hundreds of fellow chemists and students the chance to share their thoughts online, and a couple of weekends ago, he knocked together a new website that works like the voting system on Digg, the social bookmarking site, but for chemistry research papers rather than random news and images, ChemRank.

I interviewed Garcia for the June issue of chemistry webzine Reactive Reports. I asked him whether a growing online presence might present a problem for chemists, who traditionally work in a very physical science. “A complaint or compliment I frequently get from my colleagues is that I already seem to live online,” he told me, “Aside from rogue chemical developers like myself, there will always be room for glassware in a chemist’s life in our ever increasing in silico lives.” Read the full interview in Reactive Reports.

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2 thoughts on “Nuclear Chemistry and Web 2.0

  1. To what substances are you referring? Every chemical? Chemists have been working on this kind of notion for years. Theoretical chemistry has taken huge strides in developing models and actually predicting new molecules and reaction outcomes that were previously thought impossible. Similarly, drug designers can use so-called “in silico” techniques to design compounds that will have particular properties and so take better aim at disease targets than almost random conglomerations of atoms and bonds might. We are not quite at the point of referring to a virtual chem lab, but every journey begins with a single step, as they say.

  2. Would it be safe to say that if you knew every conceivable property of the substances being used “down pat”, then you should be able to create a virtual chem lab? Wouldn’t it be similar to weather predicting, especially with quantum computing a decade away?

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