Thursday, December 29, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
EPA recently announced plans to dismantle the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), our nation’s premier tool for notifying the public out about toxic pollution. The TRI annually provides communities with details about the amount of toxic chemicals released into the air, land, and water. The information enables groups and individuals to press companies to reduce their pollution, resulting in safer, healthier communities. But EPA is placing corporations ahead of community safety with enormous rollbacks in TRI reporting.
While this issue is at home rather than abroad, does it not make sense that ensuring a healthy environment in a democractic society depends on the public's right to know about pollutants in their communities? Should Chemists Without Borders take a stand on right to know about pollutants - whether in the U.S. or anywhere else?
Thanks to Peter Suber on SPARC Open Access Forum.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
MIT Professor Started a Project to Give Computers to Children in Developing Nations. How might we capitalize on or contribute to that?
"We see education as key to any world problem, from peace to poverty to hunger to the environment," Negroponte said. "Primary education is the most important thing to us because if you mess up primary education, you really then spend a lot of time trying to undo the mess afterwards."
The laptops will be financed through private donors and local governments. More than 130 countries want them.
"It's absolutely critical the kids own their own laptops, that it's given to them by the state and they own it," said Negroponte. "The reason it's important is the same reason that you have never wash a rented car because it doesn't belong to you. If it's your own car, you take more care."
Negroponte has done other, smaller laptop projects before, and he has witnessed the utter fascination for a child.
"In Cambodia when the kids brought the laptop home, the parents loved it because it was the brightest light source in the house," he said. "The first English word of every child in that project was 'Google.'"
The computers are wireless and run with very little power. In areas where there is no power source, it can be cranked up.
How did Negroponte and his team get it down to just $100? There's no fancy software, no marketing or promotion to pay for, and most of all Â there's no profit.
"Each version of our laptop will be simpler and less expensive and we have promised governments that our price will float down," he said.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Monday, October 17, 2005
For months, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has been on a determined campaign to restrain NIH from developing PubChem, a freely accessible database of small organic molecules, claiming that its existence threatens the financial viability of ACS’s Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) database. In the process, they’ve created a backlash among ACS members who recognize that PubChem is good for science. (See “Chemical Reaction”, Nature, October 2005, pages 807-809.)
PubChem, launched in 2004 as part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research strategy, is a freely accessible database available on the Web (http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) that is intended to hasten drug development. It provides the chemical structures of small molecules and links these to bioassay data, DNA sequences, 3D protein structures, biomedical literature, and other relevant resources. The purpose of these linkages is to offer researchers an advanced starting point for development of new medications.
ATA believes the American public is well served by continued development and maintenance of PubChem and rejects ACS’s contention that PubChem will unfairly compete with the CAS database. We conveyed these views in letters to House Labor/HHS Subcommittee Chair Ralph Regula (http://www.arl.org/sparc/oa/PubChemlet.html), and his Senate counterpart, Arlen Specter (http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/docs/senspecter05-0621.pdf).
On October 3, ACS president William Carroll responded to NIH Director Zerhouni’s August 22 proposal to resolve the matter. Carroll asked NIH to confirm that PubChem will not “disseminate information on the commercial availability of compounds” and called for “up-front safeguards” to block PubChem data deposits that violate contractual agreements or copyright. He also asked NIH to implement a process that ensures “data are pertinent and derived from established, bona fide sources” before dissemination in PubChem.
NIH is studying the latest ACS letter and has not yet responded. ATA will continue to monitor this and work with members of Congress to ensure a positive outcome.
For the complete ATA Newsletter, see:
SPARC Open Access Forum
Now - back to chemistry projects! Elmo, loved your post on Coal...
Friday, October 07, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
The local factor: the ideal is for every community everywhere to have the means and the expertise to lead any CWB initiatives in their own area, even if occasional assistance from outside is needed. There is a long way to go to get from here to there. To develop the local expertise, education is necessary. Open access is an important component. In order to teach, especially at higher and research levels, it is necessary to have the resources. In a nutshell, this is why it makes a great deal of sense for CWB to support open access.
CWB has joined the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a U.S.-based group that aims to make results of research funded by Americans open access.
Friday, September 30, 2005
(UPDATE- I tried to put the links in as best I could (typos in the original URLs). You may need to hit the refresh button after you click the link once) ELMO.
I want to extend my thanks to everyone who has sent ideas and suggestions of ways ACS can help our members, families, students, and institutions affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
You may recall that ACS efforts began with a resolution on August 31 by the Council of the Society at the ACS National Meeting in Washington, D.C. expressing its deep concern. Please see here. We continue to encourage members to donate to relevant agencies who are able to address immediate short-term disaster relief. To address longer-term needs, Board Chair Jim Burke, Executive Director/CEO Madeleine Jacobs, and I have taken the following actions:
* We have created the Hurricane Katrina Response Task Force, chaired by Board Member Eric Bigham. This task force has members with extensive knowledge of the expertise in our Local Sections, Divisions, and Committees.
* We have created a Web “blog” to help connect those members within and outside the region affected by Hurricane Katrina. We also have created a place within the main blog for ACS members to share Katrina-related observations gathered from our members, their families, and friends.
* We have alerted the committees and divisions with expertise in environmental science and chemical health and safety and asked for volunteers to collaborate and share expertise with state and federal environmental authorities. In the next few weeks, we hope to have a list of priority actions for ACS to implement.
* We have asked the ACS Task Force to focus much of its efforts on understanding the longer-term needs facing colleges and universities and other institutions in the region.
* The Membership Division, Publications Division, and Chemical Abstracts Service have taken steps to assist institutions and individual customers in the afflicted areas; and a number of ACS divisions and local sections are providing services or offering expertise to assist students, faculty, and others in need.
* We have asked that the new ACS Legal Assistance Network (ACS Comment, C&EN, August 29), provide legal triage specifially related to Katrina. This service is available through the website of the Chemistry and the Law Division.
* Finally, we will send one e-mail to all members describing the Society’s response. A more detailed version of this letter may be found in the September 26 issue of Chemical & Engineering News.
We’re all trying to do our part. As ACS President, I welcome additional suggestions of ways we can help via the blog or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I urge you to keep giving and volunteering to aid in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts needed to overcome this unprecedented disaster.
William F. Carroll, Jr.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Monday, September 26, 2005
The flap involves the National Institutes of Health's (NIH's) PubChem, which ACS leaders see as a threat to the fee-based Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) (Science, 2 September, p. 1473). Details on the Chemistry Information Sources Discussion List
Here is a brief explanation of the fight to support PubChem, from the SPARC E-News April-May 2005:
SPARC last week issued an action alert encouraging members to support the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in its effort to develop the PubChem online database. PubChem is under assault by the American Chemical Society (ACS), who is calling on Congress to restrict the freely accessible database. PubChem connects chemical information with facts in numerous public databases and is a critical component of NIH's Molecular Libraries Initiative, which in turn is a key element of the NIH strategic “roadmap” to speed new medical treatments and improve healthcare.
ACS claims that PubChem competes with its Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS). In reality, PubChem and the Chemical Abstracts Service databases are complementary, not duplicative. If ACS succeeds in eliminating PubMed, it will hamper scientific progress. The University of California Office of Scholarly Communication lays out the facts of this issue in The American Chemical Society and NIH's PubChem. This page collects the position statements, the major documents, and a list of actions that researchers can take to support PubChem.
Thanks to Brian Lynch for raising this issue.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Monday, September 19, 2005
My name is Brian Wagner and I am a new member of an organization called Chemists Without Borders (CWB) that has started in the United States. Our organization is interested in bettering the world through chemistry. Our primary goals include, but are not limited to: providing vaccines and affordable medicine to those who need them, developing clean water technology, and renewable energy. Our website is www.chemistswithoutborders.org. Dr. Steve Chambreau (co-founder of CWB) emailed me an article from Chemical and Engineering News about your research regarding arsenic removal from groundwater via ground water hyacinth root. I found the results intriguing and hopeful. Each member of CWB has been asked to develop a project that we feel provides a public benefit. I am very interested in building an arsenic remediation system using water hyacinth, but I could use some additional information to help with the design. How many grams of dried root was required to achieve the 93-95% removal efficiency? How many liters of water was in contact with the root? Does a longer contact time with the root provide for a greater removal of arsenic or is there a point of diminished return? Did you pass more than one aliquot of contaminated water through the same powdered root? If so, did you see breakthrough or reduced removal efficiency after addition of more than one aliquot of water? Did you note any interferences from groundwater geochemistry (i.e., high iron, manganese, phosphate concentrations reducing removal efficiency) What would become of the powdered root after it's ability to absorb arsenic reaches the breakthrough point and needs to be replaced? Is it considered a hazardous waste? On behalf of CWB, I would greatly appreciate any additional information you could provide. Your research is very promising. I like the idea of using a natural resource (especially an unwanted weed) to achieve a remediation goal. In addition to delivering clean water, I can envision the start-up of small businesses to harvest and prepare the root for use in remediation systems, providing a local economic boost to area communities. Thanks for your time. Brian Wagner Chemists Without Borders
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Remediation systems have ranged from simple iron/sand filtration units at the household level to larger RO systems for villages. The only phytoremediation system that I read about utilized brake fern to uptake arsenic through its root system. It appeared useful for removing arsenic from soil (which would reduce the amount of arsenic in groundwater due to leaching). I haven't run across any reports that water hyacinth is being used in a real world application to remove arsenic. Some of the pitfalls that have plagued current remediation systems revolve around a good understanding of the groundwater chemistry before bring the system on-line. High concentrations of ferrous iron and mangenese will clog up systems when aerated. It has been noted that high phosphate concentrations also shorten the lifespan of some systems. I think it would be very prudent to have a good understanding of the groundwater chemistry before we tried to install a real-world system. Hach methods (using a spectrophotometer) can provide results in the field at a reasonable cost for iron, mangenese, and phosphates. The Hach method for arsenic would not be very useful in the field due to the complexity of the analysis and the hazardous waste disposal of reagents.
I have emailed Dr. Haris, whose paper has prompted all this activity at CWB, to gather additional information about his research that was not presented in the paper. He has not responded yet, but I think his answers will be very helpful to constructing a viable remediation system. I would propose that we think small (we would need to define that in terms of gallons of water treated or people served) at first to work out the kinks before trying our hand at a larger
system. I would also propose that the system be operated via renewable energy sources. I have some thoughts on what a "first draft" system could look like, but I have to go now. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Monday, September 12, 2005
Sunday, September 11, 2005
PubChem now contains structures from LipidMAPs, a total of over 4.2 million structures and 3.2 million compounds.
The U.K. Green Party endorses mandated Open Access
Quick Thinking, OA, and Google save a life - from google blog.
Friday, September 09, 2005
I have just become a recent member of Chemists Without Borders with interests in clean water technology and renewable/alternative energy solutions for third world communities. I have spent many years working for testing laboratories and an environmental engineering company that focused on groundwater and soil testing and remediation resulting from hazardous waste releases.
During my email conversations with Steve Chambreau I mentioned that my wife and I live off the grid in central Vermont. VT may not be the sunniest place in the world, but one can live quite comfortably utilizing solar power. Steve asked if I would talk a little about living off the grid.
Our current set-up uses a photovoltaic array of eight(8) 63 watt solar panels wired together for 24 volt input into a battery bank (consisting of 12 large 2-volt cell batteries). The DC voltage stored in the batteries is inverted through a 1200 watt inverter and wired directly to our 120 volt AC circuit breaker box. The house is wired like any normal house (all outlets and lights are AC voltage). We also have a small micro-hydro system running off a nice waterfall next to the house, but keeping water running in Vermont winters has proved to be a challenge. Typically we rely on the solar. Large power tools and the washing machine run off a gas generator. If our inverter was 2400 watts instead of 1200 watts, we could probably eliminate the generator.
As you can imagine, when you are at the mercy of the sun shining or wind blowing, we tend to be very frugal with our power consumption whenever possible. All our lights are low watt halogen bulbs, our water pump is a low-watt shallow-well jet pump, and we don't have appliances like microwaves or electric dryers.
We have found living off the grid to be rewarding. We are much more cognizant of weather, changes in season and how much energy is consumed during our daily routines.
I would love to put renewable/alt energy systems in places where other people could benefit from them. I also see any clean water systems that we develop powered by renewable/alt energy as well.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry, a new, open access chemistry journal, was officially launched today, August 28, 2005. Thanks to Open Access News' George Porter, and BioMedCentral.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Dear Dr. Chambreau,
Thank you for your recent letter to the editor of Chemical & Engineering
News. We have decided to publish it, and it will appear in an upcoming issue
of the magazine. We appreciate you taking the time and interest to write it.
Chemical & Engineering News
Here's a copy of the letter we sent:
July 28, 2005
We are pleased to write this follow-up letter to the one Bego Gerber wrote which was published in Chemical and Engineering News, Letters to the Editor, dated September 13, 2004, p. 2, titled “An ailing cure.” The suggestion to participate in an organization of chemists analogous to Médecins Sans Frontières has catalyzed the conception of “Chemists Without Borders.” We have embarked on organizing chemists to help make the world better through chemistry, initially focusing on existing vaccines, as mentioned in the previous letter.
We invite other chemists and scientists to contact us and help us grow this organization into an internationally effective humanitarian relief organization. We will promote and facilitate the funding and implementation of chemical technologies to help where they are needed most.
Bego Gerber, Campbell, CA
Steven Chambreau, Royal Oak, MI
Keep an eye out! I hope this will get quite a response!
Friday, August 05, 2005
Links to my posts relating to chemistry and open access are gathered in this post http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2005/07/chemistry-and-open-access.html
- why OA to chemistry information is both the public and corporate interests
- The Imaginary Journal of High End Chemistry (more about publishing than chemistry, but some chemists do seem to enjoy this)
- how to fund OA chemistry
- chemistry and the disciplinary differential
(Reader caution: chemistry is behind on OA, I like to poke fun at the discipline).
Looking forward to hearing about your next conference call!
Saturday, July 23, 2005
MICHAEL MCCOY, C&EN NORTHEAST NEWS BUREAU
Chemical & Engineering News, 83(29), July 18, 2005
Michael McCoy opens the last section of his article with: "Nothing attracts drug companies like potentially large markets." Perhaps one of our strategies might be to show vaccine manufacturers how big a market we can offer them. What if we can get the professionals to do what they already to best?
From Medicine To Megatrends (subscribers only)
Chemical & Engineering News, 83(29), July 18, 2005
Another article in the same issue of C&EN talks about Dutch company VNU, which owns AC-Nielson, acquiring IMS Health, the leading market intelligence company in health care and pharmaceuticals. What if we could recruit such companies pro bono to assess the market for the vaccines we wish to promulgate, and to create a plan which would attract the pharmaceutical companies mentioned above?
GoToMeeting for online presentations. I have been using
Project KickStart since the old DOS days. It's a great tool for creating an initial draft of a project. During the conference call, we would all log in to GoToMeeting and I wouldn't data into Project KickStart on my PC for all of us to see at once. That way we can brainstorm together and record our ideas. There is a chat window for sending messages, too, so people could type in their ideas and thoughts there, and I could then move them to Project KickStart. The results can be exported to other software.
Brainstorming sessions like this often benefit from a few rules. Here are the 4 rules I learned at the Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Club: Anything goes, OK to add on to others' ideas, Keep it short (10 words or less, probably), No "Yes but"s. This process can generate a lot of useful information. Subsequent steps clean up the list, estimate timelines, assign tasks, etc.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Groups like the United Nations and its subgroups are looking for collaboration in projects for developing countries, I understand. The idea is that the most successful projects will be those that draw on local expertise where the project will be implemented. Perhaps someone with more knowledge than I with working with these U.N. and related groups can provide more details?
Many academic publishers in developing countries are making some of all of their works freely available online. In fact, in my opinion this is an area where the developing countiries are ahead; the profits associated with academic publishing in the developed world are a barrier to change.
In practical terms, what this means is that it's relatively easy to read the works of many researchers in developing countries. For example, the prestigious Indian Institute of Science has an e-print repository with over 2,000 articles produced by their researchers, which can be found at http://eprints.iisc.ernet.in/. Or, the African Journals Online site at http://www.ajol.info/ provides free abstracts to 211 African journals, and in some cases, one can read the entire journal online.
Does it make sense for CWB to read or search these kinds of works, to see if this approach might turn up a potential partner? If this approach is of interest, please let me know by adding a comment. There are many more resources, but this post is getting a bit long.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
Take a look, and let us know if you have any ideas for CWB funding sources.
postscript: I will work on getting permission to publish this article or get an open link in the near future. ELMO
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Really briefly, researchers are making their scholarly peer reviewed articles - the ones they give away anyways - freely available over the world wide web. OA is a global phenomenon, happening all over the world, in every discipline.
If chemists are wondering how they shape up in the OA movement: I hate to have to say this, but your discipline is a wee bit behind here. The physicists began archiving their preprints in the early '90s, in arXiv. Some areas of physics have almost 100% OA; in chemistry, it's a little closer to O%. But never mind that - you chemists can not only catch up, you can forge ahead by being the first on the gold road! For my theory on this, see Chemistry, Alchemy and the Gold Road at https://mx2.arl.org/Lists/SPARC-OAForum/Message/1944.html
On a more serious note, please be sure to advocate for PubChem, which ACS is trying to eliminate - for more info, see http://www.arl.org/sparc/oa/PubChemlet.html
Following is another piece of my writing that might be of interest to Chemists Without Borders. Any comments about this post, or about Open Access, are most welcome.
Chemistry and the Public Interest
The public interest in chemistry might not, at first glance, be as obvious as is the case with medicine. After all, a fair bit of chemical information is used by industries for primarily economic reasons.
More in depth analysis will reveal the public interest not only in the minute fraction of chemical information that is relevant to medicine - the realm of PubChem - but rather in all matters chemical, in my opinion.
Aside from medicine, an area of pressing concern throughout the world is fixing our damaged environment and warming climate. Even the chemical information developed exclusively for the for profit, commercial sector is now needed by peoples and governments at all levels throughout the world, to understand what we are dealing with.
A municipal government somewhere in the developing world is, or will be, left with the task of cleaning up some of these chemicals and their byproducts, left behind by industry. They need to be have access to information about the chemicals. They need to be able to hire experts, at rates they can afford. This means that they need to be able to afford to
provide educational programs in chemistry; to do this, they need access to the chemical literature.
This scenario is not limited to the developing world, of course; it it playing out in our own backyards as well, and in the backyards of the poorer states and provinces, not just the backyards of the wealthiest areas with the research libraries that can afford to purchase the largest portion of the chemical literature.
There are answers within chemistry to clean up our environment, and find new and more sustainable forms of energy. The need is urgent; the most efficient means of progress is open sharing of our information; in other words, open access.
Public funding goes into chemistry research, just as it does in medicine. There is funding through granting agencies, and the indirect funding that comes through support of academic institutions and their authors.
Even in the corporate sector, corporations get tax breaks for research and development, right? (This is a complex topic I'll talk about another day. For now, suffice it to say that in this case, delayed publication might be justified, IMHO. Note: even this is not restricted publication; a companydoes not wish its competitors to pay subscription fees; rather, they wish to
keep their secrets for as long as necessary to gain competitive advantage).
The taxpayer has a right not only to view the results of publicly funded research, but also to expect the most effective use of tax dollars.
If people in a faraway land can make use of our taxpayer funded chemical research to eliminate local pollution and restore ecosystems, we, our children and grandchildren will all quite literally breathe easier.
Advocating for PubChem is extremely reasonable. PubChem is outside the core of the chemistry publishing industry; it gives this industry plenty of time to address the more fundamental change that needs to happen.
That is, ultimately all of chemistry needs to be open access. There was a time when publishing in print and distributing to the research libraries that could afford subscriptions was the best means of distributing chemical information. This is no longer true. Electronic, open access is now the best means. The industry needs to adjust to serve the needs of the creators
of chemical information, the researchers, readers and the public alike; not the other way around.
Heather G. Morrison
Flash: no one every died from copyright circumvention. Lawrence Lessig,
Free Culture, 2004.
Open Access version: www.free-culture.cc/freeculture.pdf
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ca/ or send a letter to
Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) — A study of smells shows that the scent of grapefruit on women make them seem younger to men — about six years younger.
However, a grapefruit fragrance on men does nothing for them.
The study by the Smell and Taste Institute (search) in Chicago was conducted to determine what makes a women smell young — but not too young, like pink bubble gum.
Institute director Alan Hirsch said he smeared several middle-aged women with broccoli, banana, and spearmint leaves and lavender but none of those scents made a difference to the men.
But the scent of grapefruit changed men's perceptions. Hirsch said that when male volunteers were asked to write down how old the woman with grapefruit odor was, the age was considerably less than reality.
From Lynn Geldof, email@example.com, UNICEF, 5/18/05:
Right, well to be honest, the NGO (non-governmental organization) world is a different beast and all I know is you have to be a registered charity. What that involves, I cannot say at all. I am sure Chemists without Borders (Pharmaciens Sans Frontieres) will elucidate on all these matters and more. It's a brilliant notion, though.
UNICEF is the world's leading procuring agency for vaccines for kids...if that's of any use to you.
Good luck with it and keep me posted.
Please see Lynn's Tajikistan Diaries, for the background reference on Chemists Without Borders.
This letter is a result of CWB trying to make sure that we weren't duplicating another organization. I've been told that, in Britain, Pharmacists are called "Chemists".... so the translation of the French group "Pharmaciens Sans Frontieres" became "Chemists Without Borders." So I hope we have covered all of our bases here.
By the way, the "brilliant notion" she was referring to is the concept of a Chemists Without Borders. Let's hope others think so too!
And if her name sounds familiar, her brother has been in the news recently, too.
I hope many more of us ask this question (and the Google crawler picks us up soon!)
Here's my question:
Do you think "a market-driven, technology-based approach to dealing with climate change without imposing mandatory emission-reduction requirements on industry" will really work?