Berkman, Second Nature and the M4

I’m nearing the end of an interesting and productive, but also long and tiring, tour of the US East Coast (Atlanta, Baltimore, DC, Boston and NY). It’s election time over here, of course, and it looks like it’s going to be very interesting this time around. Helpfully, this week’s Nature has a News Feature and Commentary on what politics might mean for science, and vice versa.

On Tuesday, among many other things, I paid a visit to the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. I was catching up with David Weinberger (who was kind enough to give a great talk at our London office last year). David reciprocated by inviting me to give a talk at their Luncheon Series. (Was he kidding? How could I refuse?) My talk was entitled ‘What the web means for science’ and was about the web revolution in science communication and research.

My slides are too big to post right now, but I’ll do that later and put a link in the comments below. In any case, David’s notes are probably more comprehensible. It was webcast (and also Second Life-cast), but I don’t know if the video is archived somewhere. If anyone has a link, please post it below.

Speaking of Second Life, I mentioned at the end of my talk that Nature now has an island in Second Life, called (inevitably) Second Nature. We’ve only just begun work, so it’s barren right now, but here’s a picture:


(Science geeks might like to ponder the significance of the shape.)

We also have an updated version of our M4 (Magical Molecular Model Maker), which builds in-world models of chemical structures by querying the NIH’s PubChem database:


(Those who knew the answer to the previous question might like to stretch themselves further by identifying the molecule in this picture.)

We have several more science-related things in the pipeline for Second Nature &mdash watch this space — and we’re always on the lookout for other interesting ‘virtual science’ ideas. If you have one, let us know: either contact Jo Scott (avatar name ‘Joanna Wombat’) in Second Life, or if you prefer email write to me: t DOT hannay AT nature DOT com.


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