Computerized lab notebook?

Edward J. Huff huff at
Fri Jan 22 11:02:25 EST 1993

In article <1993Jan10.193926.4720 at>, cvl at
(Craig V Lewis) wrote:
> I strongly recommend against the use of a computer as your sole data record!!
>[...]any reasonably well chosen ink will not run 
> significantly and you spend 5 minutes with a hairdryer to resurrect your
> data.[...]
> In addition, most commercial computers do not provide a secure time stamp
> for the data.  A skilled computer operator can very quickly modify creation
> dates and data without leaving any trace of doing so.[...]
> I hope I've made the case strongly enough[...]

A few points:

1.  In our lab, the data consists of gigabytes of images, and
cannot possibly be recorded in any way but digitally.  We use two
separate DAT tapes.  We also use paper notebooks, because there isn't
any very good lab notebook software immediately available for the Mac.

2.  See "Mapping the Whole Human Genome by Fingerprinting Yeast Artificial
Chromosomes," Cell 70:1059-1068, September 18, 1992.  They mention
use of lab notebook software.

3.  No one has mentioned published encrypted summary data.  Somewhere
I read about (but have not personally seen) services which take any
data file and produce from a large file a small "signature" which
is published in the classified section of a microfilmed newspaper.
Experts will testify that it is essentially impossible to produce
a file which matches the signature and is not the original.  

What is needed to make computerized lab notebooks feasible
is a similar service on the internet (maybe BioSci could offer it)
where "signature" files could be publically posted and permantly
archived in such a way that they could not be modified without
the cooperation of many people (and no one could be certain that
someone else didn't keep another copy somewhere).  E.G. create
a newsgroup for these files, and let anyone who wants to archive

Edward J. Huff   huff at   (212)998-8465
Keck Laboratory for Biomolecular Imaging
NYU Chemistry Deptartment, 31 Washington Place, New York NY 10003
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