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The most inspiring introduction to Open Science. Ever.

The most inspiring introduction to Open Science. Ever.

The video never went viral, probably because it has an unexplained ‘interlude’ after 42 minutes 57 seconds which makes it seem to end at a random point. This bizarre showstopping moment didn’t deter your intrepid iij innovation hunters (it actually resumes after about a minute of serious onscreen weirdness) from recognizing a gem and it certainly shouldn’t stop you watching it

It’s a Google tech talk from April the 6th 2010 by Dr Matthew Todd, who is an organic chemist at the University of Sydney’s School of Chemistry in Australia. called:

Chemistry on the Web: How Can we Crowdsource Chemistry to Solve Important Problems?

Here’s a list of the projects mentioned in the video:

Praziquantel is being used in the treatment of schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection spread by freshwater snails in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Gates Foundation is funding an operational research program – SCORE to control and eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases.

This operates out of Imperial College, London and is led by Professor Alan Fenwick OBE.

The Cathedral model is where a professor and students conduct funded research to develop a solution whereas the Bazaar model invites other people to collaborate in an Open source way to develop a solution. Firefox, Chrome, Wikipedia are all Bazaar models.

Open Science involves publishing in real time and letting people respond as they see fit and then collaborate in real time.

The UsefulChem Project led by the Jean Claude Bradley at Drexel University – aimed at producing molecules that will be used to treat malaria.  Bradley is a proponent of and practises Open Notebook Science.

Open Source Drug Discovery: – OSDD is a CSIR Team India Consortium with Global Partnership with a vision to provide affordable healthcare to the developing world.

Open WetWare: is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology & biological engineering.

The Open Dinosaur Project: (founded to involve scientists and the public alike in developing a comprehensive database of dinosaur limb bone).

Chemspider: links together compound information across the web, providing free text and structure search access of millions of chemical structures.

Foldit is a revolutionary new computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research.

NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information): – advances science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

GenBank – is the NIH genetic sequence database, an annotated collection of all publicly available DNA sequences.

The Tropical Disease Initiative aims to apply an open-source collaborative approach to biological and medical research for tropical diseases.

The Synaptic Leap:  – Open Source Biomedical Research.

Stack Overflow allows you to post code and ask for help on a problem.

Chempedia is a free service for uniquely identifying and naming chemical substances.

CML (Chemical Markup Language) is an open standard for representing molecular and other chemical data.  It includes XML Schema, source code for working with CML data, and was devised by  Peter Murray-Rust who worked with Microsoft to develop a Chem Word Add-in enabling a Word document to be searched and the chemical information in it to be automatically annotated and extracted.  When you hover over a word, you get a structure and you can change the structure. -   a public web resource developed by ChemAxon.

13 Responses to “The most inspiring introduction to Open Science. Ever.”

  1. Mat Todd says:

    Thanks, Debbie. At the time I don’t think I mentioned the excellent Polymath project. But I guess what makes our project (and Jean Claude’s) different is that we’re doing lab science, rather than stuff that can be shared with just text. That brings a whole new set of challenges.

  2. Debbie Todd says:

    @Mat – Just checked out the Polymath Project:

    It certainly looks interesting and one to keep an eye on.  

    I think one of the most important things that came across during your talk was the need for intuitive software for scientists that would make it easier to share research/ideas.  Chemical Mark-up Language looks as if it will be a really useful tool.  I’m wondering however if there is a list anywhere of the types of tools/software that are needed for open science projects to become widespread.  

    Open Science is one of the hot topics on Quora at the moment so I shall keep an eye on any questions that come up there.

  3. Mat Todd says:

    @Debbie. No, I don’t think there is a list anywhere of things that are needed. Essentially the big thing is an intuitive, online, lab notebook using an open standard that has a low barrier to entry. I pitched this idea to Larry Page at SciFoo in July. He wasn’t for it – for the reason that the market would be under a billion people… We use one being actively developed by the University of Southampton, e.g.:

    There are lots of tweaks needed. How productive is it when you talk about science with someone over a coffee with a piece of paper and a pencil? We need that, online.

  4. Truly inspiring!

    For inputs on crowdsourcing in relation to science/more information on crowdsourcing, you can also upload/check out our site at

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  8. jaleeluc says:

    We should actually strive for the development of Open Science in terms of the philosophical value for it is the core that holds us together, rather than stressing upon the development of infrastructure in terms of hardware, software and technical support. I would like to suggest if we could think in the philosophical angle so as to aid in furthering the boundaries of Open Science. Because once this is achieved, all the rest like infrastructure would fall into place and everything would be taken care of by itself. 

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