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Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
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The Semantic Web and Physical Science

Peter Murray-Rust
Unilever Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge CB2 1EW, UK

The original vision of a semantic web was created by Tim Berners-Lee in the context of high-energy physics. It assumes the addition of semantics to information, allowing machines to work with humans on heterogeneous resources and to make inferences and decisions. A common features is that information must be formally described in machine-understandable terms, and a commonly used approach is to use ontology tools such as RDF and OWL. However there are major technical and cultural differences in the way that information is represented, collected and disseminated in different domains. Some specifically create communal databases, while others publish individual research articles which may then be abstracted by public or private organisations. While a database usually has some degree of semantic formalisation (dataTypes, validation) conventional journal articles normally do not. However most science publications are semantically void with the primary output being double-column PDF. It is extremely difficult for machines to extract useful information from this. There is now a major opportunity for developing scientific publications as a semantic Web. It requires the active involvement of authors, editors and publishers in adding semantics to articles and other documents. This requires community agreement on identifiers, semantic structure, vocabulary and interpretation. The Semantic Web will be discussed also in view of Open Standards, Open Access, Open Source and Open Data.