AMI: Can you help us build a virtual chemistry laboratory in Second Life?

Typed into Arcturus

We have a JISC-funded project, AMI, under the Virtual Research Environment Rapid Innovation scheme and we are getting into full swing. The idea of the project is to create an “intelligent fume cupboard” [fume hood] where the fume cupboard has an intelligence. It will be able to record simple data (events, materials, etc.) and be able to answer questions. We are thinking big and have already developed a speech interface (using Chem4Word). It’s an experiment in that we don’t know exactly what we are going to do, but we have a lab full of inexpensive sensors and transducers (IR, Ultrasound, RFID, barcodes, thermo, video, etc.). Many of these will automatically capture events such as humans coming to AMI.

Last week we talked with Steve Ley, one of the world’s great organic synthetic chemists, and he suggested we should think of avatars – as in the recent movie. That’s a great idea and after a little while I thought of Second Life, where there is a usable avatar technology. I’ve always been interested in this and in the early 90’s helped to build a virtual environment at BioMOO, unfortunately deceased.

The Blue Obelisk (Open Data, Open Source, Open Standards) in chemistry has built a SL environment for chemistry and Jean-Claude Bradley and Andrew Lang have made impressive strides and developed a community, built round teaching and citizien science research (measuring solubilities) and also malaria medicinal chemistry. So we have technology and community and energy.

This post is to appeal to anyone who is interested to join in. Anyone can do this as there are all sorts of skills that are valuable to building virtual communities. High-school chemistry is useful but not required, scripting in SL is useful but not required. Constant energy and dedication and ability to world in a largely unstructured community is valuable.

If you are interested, visit the Blue Obelisk ( ) and join the list ( ). I am an optimist and see it as possible to create a growing community round this project.

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One Response to AMI: Can you help us build a virtual chemistry laboratory in Second Life?

  1. Pingback: Science in the Open » Blog Archive » Tweeting the lab

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