Improbability Drive: Focus on rare actions speeds chemical simulations

By Davide Castelvecchi, 15:57 PM April 15, 2008

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the book by Douglas Adams, a machine made interstellar travel possible by nudging nature toward extremely improbable, but not impossible, events. A new computer-simulation technique promises to calculate chemical-reaction rates 20 times as fast as before by focusing on chains of events that—on the timescales of molecular motion—are very rare but important.

Computational chemistry uses computers as virtual test tubes. For example, by calculating chemica...

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