Move over Facebook and MySpace: Meet nanoHUB

Purdue University is hosting a social networking site that is growing into the place to be for scientists and engineers studying nanotechnology.

The nanoHUB.org site uses Web 2.0 technologies, such as tags and ratings, to attract nanotechnology experts to post and share software tools, lectures and simulations, according to Purdue.

The site, which is a project of the National Science Foundation-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology and a bunch of universities and labs, claims 24,000-plus users, a fivefold increase over the past two years.

The site enables nanotechnology scholars to access information that might otherwise be difficult to get.

"I'm a computer scientist, so you can give me a Unix account and a password, and I'm good to go," says Gerhard Klimeck, a professor of electrical and computing engineering and lead of the nanoHUB project, in a statement. "But others would take weeks to learn how to use these tools. In nanoHUB, if you know the science you can begin to use the tools immediately. nanoHUB puts scientific tools into the hands of people who wouldn't normally touch them with a 10-foot pole."

The site is powered by middleware called Maxwell’s Daemon that interconnects Web browsers and supercomputers. The technology, which Purdue plans to release as open-source software, is expected to be used to support sites for other disciplines, such as pharmacy and medical research, according to Purdue.

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