I had a ‘double header’ last week with the Royal Society of Chemistry, the first being a most interesting meeting to discuss how best to develop the Open Data agenda with a variety of chemical data. It is certainly true that while chemical reactions can be described using a Chemical Markup Language, that in most common use has achieved comparatively little penetration among chemists. This contrasts with the near-universal use of markup languages such as SBML and CellML in systems biology to describe biochemical reaction networks, and including the use and availability of sophisticated ontologies and substantial repositories.  Clearly these two communities can learn a great deal from each other.

The second was an agreeable networking meeting at the Royal Academy.

The other main external meeting was an almost-full-day visit by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport, to Rothamsted Research. Among a variety of scientific presentations and very useful discussions about agriculture (following the important launch of the Government’s Agri-tech strategy, we also took the opportunity to observe at close quarters (by walking through it) the famous Broadbalk experiment.

I noted an interesting paper and related blog, suggesting (as have I previously), and here with some exciting new data, that by sampling less than the uppermost metre of soil, we have greatly underestimated the amount of carbon that is or may be sequestered in soils, something of considerable significance to climate change. I also noted a very positive blog from the Nuffield Council on Bioethics about our bioenergy programme (“The BBSRC is an enlightened agency” – very Zen).

I enjoyed an interesting paper on ‘microbial dark matter’, a superb set of erythrocyte images published by a collaborator.

Next week I am giving a talk to the flowcytometryUK meeting, on Open Access and RCUK policy, where I note that some publishers remain sadly non-compliant. After that, the blog is going on holiday during August, including a couple of days at the Third Test at Old Trafford, and I wish readers a thoroughly pleasant break.

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