Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Remote Controlled Labs

An interesting story on Chemistry World caught my attention this morning:
A remote-controlled chemical laboratory that can be operated through the internet was unveiled on 8 December at Cambridge University, UK.

Part of the unique educational ‘Weblabs’ project, already trialled at the universities of Cambridge, Birmingham and Imperial College, UK, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US, the system allows chemical engineering students anywhere in the world to operate a real-life laboratory without costly equipment.

As best as I can tell from the website, this is reserved for enrolled students and only for doing pre-defined experiments.

But at some point I view our UsefulChem project and other Open Science initiatives to evolve to include a physical component, where anyone (or any intelligent system) can carry out novel experiments to extend knowledge.

There is actually a mechanism to (sort of) do this now on the UsefulChem wiki: the Experimental Plans page. Anyone is welcome to propose a detailed experimental plan to advance our research objectives, now primarily on the synthesis of anti-malarial agents. If it makes sense, I'll discuss it with my research group and allocate resources to execute it. I don't care if it comes from a Nobel laureate, a precocious 14 year old or a bot.

Taken from Weblabs page.


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