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Chemist Applies Google Software to Molecular World

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Aurora Clark

Aurora Clark, an associate professor of chemistry at Washington State University, has adapted Google's PageRank software to determine the way molecules are shaped and organized.

Credit: Washington State University

Washington State University (WSU) researchers have adapted Google's PageRank software to create moleculaRnetworks, a program that enables scientists to virtually study molecular shapes and chemical reactions.

"What's most cool about this work is we can take technology from a totally separate realm of science, computer science, and apply it to understanding our natural world," says WSU professor Aurora Clark.

The WSU researchers realized that the interactions between molecules are very similar to the links between Web pages, and Google's PageRank software can be used to measure and prioritize the molecular interactions.

"So the same algorithm that is used to understand how Web pages are connected can be used to understand how molecules interact," Clark says.

The researchers found that PageRank can quickly characterize the interactions of millions of molecules and help researchers predict how various chemicals will react with each other. Clark says researchers can use the software to design drugs, investigate the roles of misfolded proteins in disease, and analyze radioactive pollutants.

From WSU News
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