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Crystallography Open Database meets Axidraw (, drawing the structure of the latest addition to the COD on a sheet of paper.

Crystallography Open Database is an open access collection of crystal structures of organic, inorganic, metal-organic compounds and minerals, created and maintained by scientists who wanted to make this data accessible for all. As of 2018-02-12, there were 391176 entries at the COD. It is an example of vast scientific databases whose entries are rarely, if ever, seen by human eyes. I wanted to demonstrate the expansion of human knowledge in an immediate, physical way, rendering the quiet and hidden labour of science visible.

Huge thanks to Saulius Gražulis, @KaMykolas and ffwd for their help with crystallographic software, Axidraw and sed respectively.

The script is pretty self-explanatory. You will need Jmol, ImageMagick, axibot and potrace to run it.

Created during Science Hack Day Vilnius 2018. alt text

An example of a random structure: alt text

Same picture, inverted and converted to black and white using ImageMagick:

alt text

Vectorised output (using potrace): alt text

The structure, drawn on paper: alt text