(Artwork thanks to Andrea Sharpe at the IUCr in Chester, UK)
The Internet is becoming central in obtaining up to date information and scientific software. Laboratories in countries that are either not connected to the internet, or have only partial email links are at a major disadvantage. While it may only take minutes for crystallographers connected to the internet to obtain the latest versions of both old and new software, scientists not connected to the internet do not have this luxury. Thus a challenge exists to bridge the gap between the information rich who have good internet connectivity and those who don't.
The central idea of Crystallographic Nexus is to see if it is feasable to use CD-ROM technology to extend the academic and scientific to laboratories in nations that do not have full connectivity to the internet. In this case, the CD-ROMs would be used to distribute relevant, public domain, crystallographic (DOS/Windows) shareware, demonstration software and information, normally obtainable over the internet using a CD-ROM. Thus the CD would effectively be a "crude" Virtual Internet and/or Virtual World Wide Web (VWWW) for crystallographers and related scientists in nations without decent internet access. A limited number of CDs are being cut and distibuted on request as a trial.
A poster presented on using CD-ROMs such as this was presented at the Chem Webmaster 3
meeting in July, 1997 at Oxford University, England, titled:
Canning the Internet for Third World Laboratories: Scientific Nexus CD-ROMs in Crystallography and Alife for Remote Scientists, L.M.D. Cranswick, (http://www.unige.ch/crystal/stxnews/nexus/chmweb97/index.htm)
An invited talk on the Xtal Nexus CD was given at ECM98 (European Crystallography Meeting) in August 16th to 20th, 1998 in Prague, Czech Republic, titled "Canning the Crystallographic Internet: Nexus CD-ROM for Scientists Isolated From the Information Super Highway".
Some virtual web sites have a major amount of broken links or primarily point to external resources not included on the CD. These are included on the principle that one of the major problems in science and safety (plus other disciplines of life) is that of "I don't know what I don't know". Thus pointers to broken links at least imply the scope and depth of resources on the internet. Normally the web grabbing software should not leave a broken link - but a pointer to the real address on the internet.