December 2007/ January 2008


In profile: IDBS

Company history

Founded in 1989 and privately owned, IDBS is a leading provider of advanced software solutions for the drug discovery industry. ActivityBase, its flagship product, was released in 1994 and is now the industry standard solution for managing biological and chemical discovery data.


Putting the user first

For the relatively small fee of £9 an hour, researchers at Cambridge University can now access teraflop processing powers to help projects ranging from astronomical simulations to the interrogation of bioinformatics databases that could provide leads for new, life-saving drugs.


Driving innovation

Thoughts of scientific software for automobiles naturally turn towards CFD (computational fluid dynamics) for aerodynamic analysis.

Meanwhile, though, software has started to make major contributions to the auto industry in countless other areas, many of them aimed at improving fuel economy and reducing emissions.

Here is just a sampling of the myriad areas where scientific software has become a key element in auto design and development.

Virtual wind tunnels


The science of perfection

In a long ago school history lesson, I was told that one factor in the victory of industrial north over agrarian south in the American Civil War lay in the interchangeability of rifle bolts. The bolt of a southern rifle, we were told, was machined to precisely fit the weapon for which it was made; a northern bolt, by contrast, was a sloppier thing, mass produced and matched randomly to other parts made to the same standards.


A constant among variations

Some people believe that economics is not a true science, because it is impossible to do controlled experiments and the results of any experiment cannot be reproduced, because there are too many variables.

This does not mean that economists cannot make a worthwhile contribution to knowledge and help to improve the world for everyone.