The Computational History of Chemistry
Guillermo Restrepo

November 3, 2023, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Institut supérieur de Philosophie, Catholic University of Louvain

Salle Ladrière (socrate a.124), Collège Mercier
Place Cardinal Mercier 14
Louvain-la-Neuve B-1348

This event is available both online and in-person


Université Catholique de Louvain

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On Friday November 3, Guillermo Restrepo (Max Planck Institute, Leipzig, Germany) will give a talk at the Louvain Philosophy of Chemistry Seminar, titled "The Computational History of Chemistry and the Questions it Triggers on the Philosophy of Chemistry" (abstract below).

The aim of this research seminar is to introduce everyone to the exciting, but still emerging field of Philosophy of Chemistry. Get ready for a seminar full of "bangs and stinks" with talks on catalysis, laws of chemistry, the nature of chemical elements, biochemical kinds, and much more.

Here is the schedule for all the upcoming talks:

    Friday November 3: Guillermo Restrepo (Leipzig)
    Friday December 15: Francesca Bellazzi (Birmingham)
    Friday February 16: Sarah Hijmans (Berlin)
    Friday March 15: Brigitte Van Tiggelen (Louvain-La-Neuve)
    Friday May 10: Vanessa Seifert (Athens)
    Wednesday June 26: Eric Scerri (Los Angeles)

All talks will be live streamed via YouTube Live from 14:00 to 16:00 CEST. No registration required. Just click the link below, sit back, and enjoy:

The format consists of one hour of talk and one hour of question-and-answer period.

Any questions can be addressed to Pieter Thyssen ([email protected]). 

Warm regards,


The Computational History of Chemistry

The increasing amount of data and computing power are turning computational approaches into an integral part of historians’ tools. Beyond providing novel ways to solve historical questions, computational history allows for asking and solving novel questions related to large-scale patterns.  Chemistry, being the science with the largest output of publications associated with its exponential growth of new substances and reactions, is therefore not short of data. This information is today collected in huge electronic databases, which not only bring this corpus of information to our fingertips but also offer many possibilities for conducting computational analyses shedding light on the history of chemistry and the evolution of chemical knowledge. Here we summarise our results on the historical unfolding of the chemical space, understood as the collection of chemicals and reactions reported over the years in the scientific literature. To what extent does the rapid material production of chemistry lead to a rapid expansion of knowledge?  How mature is chemistry based on its historical patterns?  What are the ethical consequences of the expansion of the chemical space?  These are some philosophical questions triggered by the historical patterns unveiled by the computational history of chemistry, which will be discussed in the talk.

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