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When two worlds collide

Enterprise content management systems are helping organise scientific information while laboratory systems are starting to incorporate data from elsewhere in organisations. Siân Harris reports on how these two worlds are coming together

The DNA deluge

Clare Sansom on how next-generation sequencing methods are creating challenges in the field of bioinformatics

The future of currents

Climate change and global warming are ever-present topics in the media, but how much can the predictioncs be trusted? David Robson investigates the trials of modelling such complex environmental and meteorlogical data.

From lab to enterprise

Tom Wilkie explores how laboratory data management applications are integrating more and more with software outside the lab, including enterprise resource planning software, thereby feeding into overall business management

Simple is often best

Choices of data acquisition software are clouded by a bewildering array of data formats. For successful integration from instrument to analysis package, the simplest option is often the best, discovers Sian Harris.

LIMS widens its reach

Laboratory Information Management Systems are coming out of the quality control lab and into some quite unexpected places, as Tom Wilkie discovers

An ELN by any other name

The market for electronic lab notebooks is growing apace, but opinions differ as to what this software actually does. Tom Wilkie and David Robson sampled some views

ELNs in action

David Robson discovers that ELNs are being used in a diverse range of applications

Providing the backbone to research and analysis

Whether organisations are analysing specimens from a wide range of different industries - or collecting more similar samples but on a scale that was previously unimaginable, a flexible and robust LIMS is essential, discovers Sian Harris

Meet Mr Matlab

John Murphy meets scientific computing's leading 'celebrity', Cleve Moler, co-founder of The MathWorks

A parallel universe

Cheaper clusters, multi-core chips, and ever more complex problems to solve mean that the era of desktop supercomputing is upon us. Even Microsoft is getting in on the act, as Tom Wilkie reports

The maths package problem

Brian Cogan assesses some leading mathematics packages - and finds that an effective comparison is almost impossible

Towards off-the-shelf integration for labs

At first glance, a laboratory information management system (LIMS) might seem to sit quietly in a laboratory doing its job without really changing. In fact, the reality is far more exciting for this unsung hero of the analytical process, as Siân Harris discovers

Software is key to better productivity

Commercial laboratories increasingly turn to less-skilled staff for their routine analyses, but also want to use and share their results in far more ways than in the past. The key to achieving these different goals lies in the software, writes Siân Harris

Vive la difference

Different data, different analytical tools, different users. How can scientific computing cope with diversity in the life sciences? Tom Wilkie discovers that data pipelining and workflow technology offer new approaches

Science by the book

Tom Wilkie argues that scientific computing holds the answer to the questions posed by Schrödinger in his classic book What is Life?

Just a small step to phaser stun guns...

Thanks to Star Trek, a couple of generations of us have been brought up to believe that space was the final frontier (and that it was permissible to split infinitives... albeit boldly).

A life of freedom

John Murphy profiles the founder of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology.

Tools to make things simple

Brian Ritchie, President and CEO of Blackstone Computing, tells Tom Wilkie how to get scientists doing more science and less computing.

Are clusters, the Grid, and peer to peer, supplanting supercomputers?

Forging links to form the LIMS team

The few months since our last LIMS round-up have witnessed a raft of new collaboration and integration initiatives. Vanessa Spedding brings things up to date

A model miscellany

Felix Grant tests out some analytical software tools, as proposed by readers of the Scientific Computing World website

War, scientific computing, and the future

Scientific computing and international politics seem unrelated topics, yet we live in an age suffused with technology to the extent that all political decisions are, inescapably, conditioned by technology. Surprisingly topical, perhaps, is computational fluid dynamics. As the shadows of war darken the global scene, many commentators warn that the issues at stake are not only those of weapons of mass destruction but also those of energy supply and security. All market economies are critically dependent on supplies of oil, because few materials offer its benefits of portability and high energy density.

e pluribus unum?

Contemporary science is a huge undertaking, ranging from the inanimate and almost unimaginably enormous, as in cosmology, to the study of living processes, as in molecular biology and ecology. So varied and diverse does today's science appear that it is difficult sometimes to see the threads linking such apparently different intellectual disciplines. It is very pleasing therefore that this issue of Scientific Computing World contains some pertinent reminders of common themes and common methods.

An education in add-ins

Felix Grant tried out StatTools on some new users, who found the whole experience painlessly educational

Only connect...

Felix Grant used Origin and SigmaPlot to understand the effects of industrialisation on groundwater and, in a modest way, to help after the tsunami.

Scientists do not work in isolation

The phrase 'science and technology' always appears with the words in that order. Implicit in the ordering is an assumption that there is a sort of unidirectional flow: science first produces the knowledge and then this is applied in the form of technology. It's akin to the 'central dogma' of molecular biology: that DNA makes RNA makes protein. Information travels along a one-way street.

mathematica creator turns author

A few months ago, Stephen Wolfram was probably best known in scientific computing circles for his outstanding practical contribution to the field as creator of the popular Mathematica software package. However, with the publicity surrounding the launch of A New Kind of Science, it's hard to be unaware now of his other credentials as a prodigy who skipped school and a first degree to receive a CalTech PhD in theoretical physics at 20.

The human face of science

The international pharmaceutical industry has been phenomenally successful over the past couple of decades in decreasing the burden of human suffering - at least for those of us fortunate enough to live in the prosperous market economies of the developed countries.

Escape from the cell block

Conventional spreadsheets are limited by the fact that each cell holds a single scalar value. Felix Grant finds that DADiSP 2002 - nominally a spreadsheet - breaks through these limitation.

Science and the gradual breakthrough

One of the staples of popular science journalism is that every development and every discovery tend to be breathlessly reported as a 'breakthrough'. My own favourite is the article in the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, reporting the discovery of a 'gene' for asthma which, the reporter went on to say, would lead to a cure for asthma within five years. The report appeared 15 years ago.

A free lunch, anybody?

Free maths software is available over the Internet, but Ray Girvan thinks that many users may still prefer to pay

Can software save us from recession?

Picture the analytical chemist, using a laboratory information management system (LIMS) to check process quality control. Or an engineer using maths software to calculate the flow of air over a wing or a new design of motorcar.

Palm Beach

A lot of good software is available to allow scientists to take their work with them in the palms of their hands, says Felix Grant.

Will computing reduce mountains to molehills?

Scientific Computing World is published from Cambridge, England, an area of the country notorious for the flatness of its landscape, without the merest vestige of a hill. There is a modest irony, therefore, that the common theme of the articles in this issue of the magazine is 'mountains'.

Will computing reduce mountains to molehills?

Scientific Computing World is published from Cambridge, England, an area of the country notorious for the flatness of its landscape, without the merest vestige of a hill. There is a modest irony, therefore, that the common theme of the articles in this issue of the magazine is 'mountains'.

Automating innovation?

One of the fears at the start of the information technology age was 'de-skilling': word-processors would replace typists, and automated machine-tools would make factory workers redundant. Even those with scientific training have felt the effects of such developments: software has made many of the mathematical techniques that I learned at university redundant.

Inventive problem solving

Ray Girvan investigates TRIZ; a methodology for formalising the invention process according to empirical rules

And furthermore...

Felix Grant takes a look at some of the latest specialist add-in modules for stats packages

Genstat for Windows 9th Edition

This latest version of VSN's heavyweight flagship, a substantial update like all its predecessors, is everything that users would expect from its long development history rooted in practical experience at the coalface. It also builds on recent work to dramatically enhance the facilities for exploratory users.

All things to all users

What is scientific computing? This may seem a strange question for me to pose in the leader column of a magazine that has flourished for many years by providing articles on precisely this topic for its readers. If we don't know what scientific computing is, who would?

A new era for this publication.

Perceptive readers of this issue of Scientific Computing World may notice a subtle difference. The magazine is now under the ownership of Europa Science. This dedicated science-publishing company has been formed jointly by the two organisations that have been working on the magazine for the past three years: Cambridge Publishers, and 2020 Communications.

Yours, free to keep...

From a dune in the depths of the Sahel desert, Felix Grant accessed free statistics software using a handheld. But, he discovered, there are costs other than monetary ones.

Free to view

OriginLab has created a standard for rich transmission of technical graphics, argues Felix Grant

Problem-solving pushes boundaries

It is well known that equations and algorithms used in rocket science are used in Wall Street, but that is not the only crossover between hard-core scientific computing and the commercial world. Scientific research progresses because researchers constantly come up with new ways to meet the challenges thrown up by their research goals.

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