Molecular Workbench Logo Gets a New Look

March 20th, 2013 by Chad Dorsey

We’re pleased today to welcome a new logo for the Molecular Workbench (MW), our complex, beautiful and award-winning software for visualizing molecular dynamics and more.

MW was developed over a decade with funding from the National Science Foundation by senior scientist and software developer Charles Xie. It includes a powerful physics engine that calculates the forces acting at the atomic level, with rules for photons, chemical bonds and macromolecules, plus Newton’s laws to determine the resulting motion. With all these calculations, emergent behavior, um… simply emerges! And that means MW can simulate real scientific phenomena over a wide variety of domains—from microscopic to macroscopic—in chemistry, physics, biology and more.

With one product harnessing all that power and flexibility, we had tried to convey quite a lot in our original logo. The diverse history of MW’s development contributed as well to a logo that had become as internally diverse as MW itself. Based roughly on a methane molecule to show its roots in the molecular world, each “hydrogen” atom surrounding the central “carbon” workbench showed one of the many, many phenomena MW could model.

We’re now moving MW to the Web, thanks in no small part to generous funding from Google, and we’re revamping our logo for this brave new world. Our goal was to simplify MW’s logo while still conveying its diversity—its ability to demonstrate ideas across multiple scales and bring to life the dynamic nature of the molecular world all around us. We also wanted this, our “flagship” product, to connect to our recently redesigned Concord Consortium logo.

Molecular Workbench

We’re pleased with the result, and think it accomplishes all of this and more. The new MW logo’s central star is the same as the star inside the Concord Consortium’s new logo. Here it represents the nucleus of inspiration surrounded by dynamic and colorful stylized atomic “orbits” that evoke MW’s dynamic nature. These shapes hearken back to classic representations of the atomic world, evoking the Bohr model so central to the history of atomic understanding, while at the same time hinting at electrons’ evanescent quantum nature—which MW can also demonstrate quite effectively.

Viewing with another eye, you may instead see something at a vastly different scale. Spheres exhibiting circular motion? A representation of a star and orbiting planets? Even another surprising new solution to the three-body problem? If so, you’re not wrong either—it turns out that MW can model just about anything.

This is the next generation of MW and we’re excited about expanding the use of this software. It’s been downloaded a million times already. Go ahead—make it a million and one.

Special thanks to Derek Yesman of Daydream Design, who created our new logo.

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2 Responses to “Molecular Workbench Logo Gets a New Look”

  1. Roy Tasker Says:

    I am one of your keenest supporters and just love what you are doing with Molecular Workbench.
    However, I HATE this logo with a passion. It totally reinforces the most useless model of the atom there is, whether you think so or not. PLEASE change it to another logo asap.
    There, spleen vented.

    Prof Roy Tasker
    Professor of Chemistry Education
    University of Western Sydney

    [Reply to this Comment]

    Chad Dorsey Reply:

    Dr. Tasker,

    Thanks so much for letting us know of your support for Molecular Workbench. The software is hugely popular and we’re glad to hear from one of its keenest fans. Of course, we’re sorry to hear that our new logo has incited you.

    While the Bohr model is certainly not the correct atomic model, we do acknowledge its singular role in fashioning thought about atomic models. Furthermore, it is hard to discount its iconic relevance in evoking thoughts of the atomic world for all viewers. Capturing the versatility and multi-scale nature of something like MW in an widely recognizable way is indeed a challenge. Amid that challenge, we note that we see many different things in this logo besides simply a molecular model – it may represent a star at the center of a large-scale planetary system, while at the same time it may evoke the quantum nature of the electron.

    In general, thanks for your heartfelt opinions, and most especially for your love of Molecular Workbench. And keep an eye out for new features coming soon in our Next-Generation Molecular Workbench—including light-matter interactions—that we think you’ll love also. As you know, Molecular Workbench is incredibly powerful with the ability to model a huge range of scientific phenomena. We hope you’ll come to see MW’s new logo as more than a single icon, but representing, like the software itself, a host of exciting possibilities.

    [Reply to this Comment]

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