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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 14, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Google PageRank searching molecules at WSU

A Washington State University professor is using Google’s PageRank software to search molecules.

Aurora Clark built “moleculaRnetworks” to help scientists determine molecular shapes and chemical reactions without the challenges of lab experiments, according to a WSU release.

The work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Clark’s research with colleagues at the University of Arizona was the subject of a recent article in The Journal of Computational Chemistry.

From the release:

Clark and her colleagues realized that the interactions between molecules are a lot like links between Web pages. Some links between some molecules will be stronger and more likely than others.

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

The PageRank algorithm’s ability to look at a massive amount of the Web at once can “quickly characterize the interactions of millions of molecules and help researchers predict how various chemicals will react with one another,” the release continues.

Clark said the software could eventually help researchers design drugs, investigate the roles of misfolded proteins in disease and analyze radioactive pollutants.

Next they could start displaying contextual ads – search for proteins, get ads for diet supplements. …

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