Periodycal #11: AI chemistry fails & allergy season
AI isn't going to be enriching chemistry stock image options any time soon
Another fortnight, another edition of Periodycal. I’m a bit short on new graphic content for this edition as I’ve been kept busy working on a new project I can’t share (yet!), but there’s a look at what AI means for chemistry stock images (spoilers: at the moment, nothing good). There are also some topical graphics on allergies as hay fever season approaches in the northern hemisphere. And in addition, there are the usual round-ups of topical chemistry graphics from the archives and news and features I’ve found interesting over the past week or so.
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AI chemical structure horrors
Hate dodgy chemical structures in stock images? You’re reading a chemistry-themed newsletter, so I’m going to assume the answer to that question is yes. The surging popularity of AI image generators made me wonder how they might fare with generating chemistry stock images, so I had a play around and I’m sorry to report that some crimes against chemical structures were committed.
This abominable horror was produced by Bing’s Image Creator. It’s clearly worked out that hexagons are a thing, but it’s also given them a liberal sprinkling of double bonds. The results remained the same despite varying prompts:
It perhaps isn’t particularly surprising that AI image generators struggle with chemical structures since they are really just blindly reproducing elements of images they’ve been trained on, with no way of knowing what’s right or wrong. They struggle even if instructed to generate the structure of a specific molecule. On the plus side, they can do coloured liquids in glassware, as if we had a shortage of those in current stock images!
If you’ve been having more success using AI to generate chemistry images, let me know in the comments.
Allergy season is here
Allergy season is approaching if you’re in the northern hemisphere. If you’re unlucky enough to be allergic to tree pollen, it’s very much already here, with high levels being reached this week. This graphic from the archives looks at what causes the allergic response, and some of the medications that can provide relief.
Upcoming chemistry tie-ins
Here’s a quick run-down of upcoming events or days and links to some relevant chemistry graphics from the archives:
21 April: National Tea Day — The chemistry of tea
22 April: Earth Day — The chemistry of biodegradable plastics
25 April: DNA Day — The chemical structure of DNA
Chemistry news and features
Here’s the regular selection of chemistry news and features I’ve found interesting over the past couple of weeks:
My transplanted heart and I will die soon — A poignant article on the challenges still facing anti-rejection drugs for transplant patients.
Generative AI is dreaming up new proteins — Since we’re on a bit of an AI theme in this issue, here’s something it’s doing better than chemistry image generation: designing new, as yet undiscovered proteins.
That’s all for this slightly shorter issue! As always, let me know if you’ve any suggestions for the newsletter or new graphics, as they’re always appreciated.
Thanks for reading,
That is very interesting that something as powerful as AI can't seem to make out chemistry that is just the structure of it. I think this shows chemistry is more of an art than before.
Still better than these 'chemical structures' published on BBC that one time: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-40774580