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Information Technology in
the Natural Sciences
Biology – Chemistry – Physics
Historical Perspective
Information Technology in
• Starting in the 60’s
• VisiCalc 1979 first commercial
Spreadsheet program
• Business applications have been
the driving force behind the
rapid development of IT over the
last 30 years.
Huge Amounts of Information
Business Information
• Wall Street produces Terabytes of
data every day
• Wal-Mart Alone has an operational
database with many Terabytes of
Scientific Information
• From Stars in the Universe
• Amino Acids in our bodies
• Scientific Data about the Natural
World is far larger than any Business
Application could produce.
Computational Science
• Use of techniques from applied
mathematics, informatics, statistics,
and computer science to solve
scientific problems.
– Computational Biology
– Computational Chemistry
– Computational Physics
– Computer Modeling and Simulation of
the Natural World
Major research efforts in the field
• sequence alignment,
• gene finding,
• protein structure alignment,
• protein structure prediction,
• prediction of gene expression
• protein-protein interactions, and
• the modeling of evolution.
Bioinformatics continued...
• Computers were used out of
necessity because
• In the Human Genome Project
there is too much data to
process manually
• Data Mining techniques can
discover patterns and
relationships that human
couldn’t find.
Computational Chemistry
• create efficient mathematical
approximations and computer
programs that calculate the
• properties of molecules and
• to apply these programs to
concrete chemical objects.
• Heavy use of Visualization, 3D
Modeling and even Virtual
Computational Physics
• study and implementation of
numerical algorithms in order
to solve problems in physics
• In the past, computers weren’t
powerful enough to complete
the computation of serious
How will this change the world?
• It already has...
• The human genome could
never have been sequences
without the aid of Information
• But, this is just the beginning...
• The Pharmaceutical Industry is
changing rapidly.
Drug Discovery
• The process by which drugs are
designed and discovered is
• Diseases can be pin pointed to
certain genes and/or proteins.
• Instead of serendipitous discovery,
drugs can betailor designed to
repair or correct specific problems
on a molecular level.
Scary or Hopeful Considerations
• The wide use a Information
Technology in Science is rather
• Its just about to explode.
• Scientists may not be leveraging
the full advantages of IT.
• The tools for manipulating data
advance much more rapidly than
physical tools (instruments, etc.)