Copyright©2009 Antony Williams
The Chemical Abstracts Service have announced their first foray into providing Public Domain data. CommonChemistry.org was announced at the ACS meeting and is now online for all to visit. From the “About Common Chemistry” webpage the site is defined as:
“This database contains the CAS Registry Number®, chemical names (both formal and common), molecular formulas, and structures or sequences for ~7800 chemicals of widespread general public interest. These substances are of global commercial use or importance and have been cited 1,000 or more times in the CAS databases. Examples of substances included are aspirin, biotin, benzoyl peroxide, and boric acid. The Common Chemistry database also includes all 118 elements of the Periodic Table, although not all of the elements may meet the 1,000 references threshold.
Links to Wikipedia records (when available) have been provided by the Wikipedia Chemicals WikiProject in collaboration with Chemical Abstracts Service.
You can quickly and easily confirm a chemical name, CAS Registry Number, or structure from this database of common, everyday chemicals.
You can search for substances in Common Chemistry by either their CAS Registry Number or by their chemical name. Chemical name searches can be by exact name if you have one or by name fragment. CAS Registry Number searches are exact search only. Consult the Help page for additional search tips and details.
This database will be updated periodically. Information such as Wikipedia links may be added on a more frequent basis as it becomes available.”
A search on Xanax or Aspirin produces a hit very quickly and the record example for Xanax is given here. The result is a validated CAS Number for Xanax, a list of chemical names and the chemical structure. You can compare that to the ChemSpider record for Xanax here. I personally prefer our structure images on ChemSpider. The comparison is below…ChemSpider is on the right. We have a lot more info on the ChemSpider website and a lot of it is validated y the community.
Of note is the fact that the CAS number provided with the CAS image is not separated by dashes. I had never seen that before.
We have already created the CommonChemistry.org Data Source on ChemSpider in case anyone wants to connect up records from ChemSpider with CommonChemistry as they are curating our dataset. I’ve already linked a few records to CommonChemistry.org and maybe that will happen at Wikipedia too. Some basic checking on a few records shows that we have good validation on the registry numbers on ChemSpider already. I checked 5 records and we were correct in all cases. This is unlikely to bear true across the entire database but is a good sign.
It is unclear what licensing is on the data. I doubt it’s Open but that won’t matter to the majority of users…they are looking for a piece of information or to confirm something and are unlikely to be distracted by whether the data are Open or not…free access will suffice.
I haven’t tested the search capabilities too much and will do so in the next few days. I think that CAS should consider showing the leed of the Wikipedia article as well as linking out to other information. ChemSpider is a good one since we list articles, properties, analytical data etc for a much enhanced record …see Cholesterol as an example. When the site is out of beta we’ll offer to produce ChemSpider IDs for the entire CommonChemistry database in case they want to link.
This website is an interesting shift for CAS and demonstrates a willingness to provide access to Public Domain data. It is a good start to open up the first 7800 structures with more than 1000 citations and there is much more that they can do in a smilar vein, theoretically without threatening their business model. It’s going to be interesting to watch. Certainly CAS have helped in the validation of the CAS Numbers on Wikipedia and that has been an interesting project for all with validated CAS numbers resulting. It has been a long and exacting project with many eyes poring over the data…all for the good of the community.Stumble it!