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Computer Science Adds New Dimension to Study of Chemistry


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Screen capture of a PC-based three-dimensional molecular modeling program for drawing, displaying, and simulating the dynamic behavior of organic and biological molecules.

Computer science is benefiting the study of chemistry.

Credit: Norgwyn Montgomery Software Inc.

Computer science is benefiting the study of chemistry by adding a layer to analyze chemical processes.

For example, Stanford University researchers combine computational and chemical science, resulting in new discoveries, interdisciplinary programs, and Nobel Prizes.

"Chemistry, specifically organic chemistry, has a puzzle-like nature that requires imagination to understand how a molecule is synthesized," says Stanford student Amani Peddada, who came to Stanford to study chemistry but switched to computer science. "Chemistry and computer science are similar in a lot of ways," Peddada says. "They require you to think a lot."

Today, with greater knowledge of chemistry and advanced technologies, much chemistry research is done through computers. "[My research is] mainly a lot of waiting, and writing mathematical calculations," says Stanford researcher Darren Demapan.

In 2013, Stanford professor Michael Levitt and other researchers used computational chemistry to simulate how a drug works inside the body. The researchers used computer-generated calculations to model atoms and protein responses to a drug. The research won Levitt a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2013.

"Today, the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube," says the chemistry Nobel Prize press release.

From The Stanford Daily
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