Google‘s search method turns out to be useful for more than just finding relevant Web pages. It works just as well on chemical links, which can help scientists design new medicines for treating disease.
Scientists at Washington State University have come up with a way to use Google’s PageRank algorithm to more accurately model water molecule behavior. Chemistry professor Aurora Clark and her colleagues Barbara Logan Mooney and L. Rene Corrales have documented their findings in a paper called moleculaRnetworks, published in the Journal of Computational Chemistry.
PageRank is an algorithm that Google uses to determine a site’s popularity based upon the number of links to it from other sites and how influential those linking pages are themselves.
Professor Clark’s technique uses the same algorithm, but instead ranks water molecules by the number and strength of hydrogen bonds to neighboring molecules. At first that may not sound particularly important, but water is part of almost every biological reaction. A detailed understanding of water’s behavior could have an impact across a wide range of areas. Better and safer drug design, as well as understanding protein misfolding (attributed to some degenerative diseases) is two such examples.