Scientific Anthology: Serendipity

Introduction

Serendipity is defined as “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.” (1)

This anthology provides examples of scientific serendipity. This will introduce a number of scientists, inventions, and theories that all came about because of serendipity. This theme was clear throughout the books that we read during the semester and we wanted to prove that serendipity really exists in the scientific community as well as the world around us.

  1. (n.d.). Retrieved May 09, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serendipity
Scientific Anthology: Serendipity

Genentech: History of Biotechnology

Sally Smith Hughes writes, Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech, a historical account about the rise of Genentech Inc. Hughes takes the reader from the beginnings of biotech in 1973, to Genentech’s creation by Robert A. Swanson and Herbert Boyer, to its Wall Street debut in 1980. Hughes is a science historian at the University of California, Berkeley contributing over 150 oral histories[1] to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley; additionally Hughes also wrote The Virus: A History of the Concept[2]. Genentech tells the story of how a multiplicity of perspectives and personalities can affect the growth of science; and how outside sources of control and regulation, by government and private sector, can help or hamper progress in commercial and university scientific research. Continue reading “Genentech: History of Biotechnology”

Genentech: History of Biotechnology

Genetech: Money or Science?

After reading the book, the audience can question whether or not scientists are motivated by helping the people, or money. Even when visiting the Genetech website, they stress their dedication to the patients and the good of science. However, like any company the scientists must work in oder to please investors. If a product is not made in a timely manner successfully, the company will fall behind competitors. The website even lists reasons why people should invest in their company, all surrounding money obviously. People can become concerned projects are rushed, or not done to the best of the scientists ability in order to make certain deadlines or requirements. Regardless, Genetech is a multi-billion dollar company and is not lacking in investments.

We believe it’s urgent to deliver medical solutions right now – even as we develop innovations for the future. We are passionate about transforming patients’ lives. We are courageous in both decision and action. And we believe that good business means a better world.-www.gene.com

Genetech: Money or Science?

Venture Capitalism in Biotechnology

In a field such as biotechnology, many expenses must go into research and experimentation. Obviously, most scientists do not have millions of dollars to fund their own work. Money can come from either government grants, or private sources. The book talks about venture capitalists, or people who invest in startup companies with the hope of making a large profit.

An article about jobs in biotechnology, describes venture capitalism and what such a job would entail. Venture capitalists have a key role in the translation of scientific innovation from idea to commercial reality. Investments are typically designed to fund through one or more important milestones, such as a clinical trial or product launch, that will drive value in either the public markets or the eyes of acquirers. Financial market conditions may make it difficult to get a good return on investments in some of the most promising, but very early-stage technologies.

http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v26/n10/full/nbt1008-1195.html

Venture Capitalism in Biotechnology

Pointing From The Grave: DNA’s Fingerprint

Samantha Weinberg writes, Pointing from the Grave: a True Story of Murder and DNA, a non-fiction book chronicling the sexual assault and murder of Helena Greenwood in 1985, and the eventual conviction of her killer using emerging DNA technology 15 years later. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Weinberg as authored books like A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth and the Moneypenny Diaries, a James Bond inspired trilogy. Additionally, Weinberg is also a member/politician of the British Green Party. Pointing From the Grave uses real events about Helen’s assault and murder; background in the defendant’s past and state of mind; and the progression of DNA profiling from its discovery as a tool for evidence to it becoming the dominant tool for convictions around the world. Continue reading “Pointing From The Grave: DNA’s Fingerprint”

Pointing From The Grave: DNA’s Fingerprint

Brain and Behavior

“”The knowledge that this science will give cannot be unlearned once it is discovered” (Weinberg 350).

Weinberg states that in coming decades, more and more information will be found that explains the relationship between chemicals in the brain and behavior. Although genes have been studied and many advances have been made in the study of mental health, there is a lot to be learned in disorders which cannot be specifically defined.

In the case of Frediani, he had a personality disorder that could be very hard to identify. When diagnosing and treating mental disorders, some are very hard to categorize based on symptoms and behavior. Once more research is done on genes and specific disorders can be pinpointed, it will be very beneficial to anyone suffering with such a disorder. Even when brought up in court there could be solid evidence to prove someone is mentally unstable vs just the word of a doctor who examined the suspect.

Brain and Behavior

Dissociative Identity Disorder

A forensic psychology fellow from the University of Cincinnati published an article stating that criminals using multiple personalities as insanity is rarely successful. Diagnosing DID is somewhat difficult due to its unprovable nature. In the novel, Fredianai was said to have acted differently with everyone in his life. Whether or not he was criminally insane or has DID is debatable, but it is evident he had a way of manipulating people depending who was with. People with DID switch between completely different personalities and essentially become a different person. Voice, attitudes and behavior drastically change. Frediani most likely did not have DID because even though he acted different towards his girlfriends vs colleagues, it was not too extreme. http://www.currentpsychiatry.com/home/article/dissociative-identity-disorder-no-excuse-for-criminal-activity/df220fd1fd6c4883df405908dd6b3ebc.html

Dissociative Identity Disorder

Cold Cases

When not enough evidence is presented in a case and no one is found guilty, it becomes a cold case. Cold cases were especially common when not enough technology existed for things like DNA testing, or simply keeping evidence form being tampered with. A few articles in the Huntington Post told of cold cases that were finally solved after as long as twenty years. New evidence had been found and DNA testing gave the answers. Suspects who had not enough proof to convict them were finally put behind bars. As seen with Helena’s case, the police do all they can to put an end to a case and provide closure. More cold cases should be looked into with the new technology.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/cold-case-solved/

Cold Cases

Life After Jail

In chapter 12, the book addresses how Frediani seemed to be a changed man after being released from prison. When inmates are released from prison, people wonder whether or not they are actually changed, or only appear to have. A man named Billy Moore spent 17 years on death row for robbery and murder he pleaded guilty too. After protest from the victims family against the death penalty, Moore was let out on parole. He now spends his time speaking out against the death penalty and works on the idea that sometimes good people are driven to do terrible things. In hindsight, the criminal knows their actions were wrong and truly want to change. Although not the case for all prisoners, it is true that some are able to transform themselves after having time to reflect in jail. http://www.nodeathpenalty.org/new_abolitionist/february-2005-issue-34/billy-moore-people-prison-can-change

Life After Jail

DNA Police Training

http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/magazine/index.cfm?fuseaction=display_arch&article_id=905&issue_id=62006

With an increasing reliance on DNA evidence, it is crucial police officers are trained to handle crime scenes properly. Police officers in Colorado are undergoing extensive training to ensure evidence is not tampered with during any part of an investigation. A brutal Colorado murder was solved through the use of DNA blood sampling and really promoted the public and police departments support for better funded training. if officers are trained before stepping on a crime scene, less mistakes will happen and more accurate suspects will be found.

DNA Police Training

How impartial really are jury’s?

In today’s society with the use of technology in the the media and communication, it is rare to find someone who has not heard of popular news stories and cases. Courts try to ensure a jury is composed of unbiased, unknowing citizens who will approach the case with a fresh perspective. However, how accurate is it to say all members of the jury have not actually heard of a case, especially famous ones? Or to say everyone does not have some level of prejudice towards certain race, genders, etc.? I believe something must be changed in order to improve the court system and ensure suspects as well as victims are being given a truly unbiased ruling.

Jury.Box_

How impartial really are jury’s?

Book Review- Helen, Mike, Matt

Steven Johnson writes, Where Good Ideas Come From, a book dedicated to the history of innovation and how good ideas come to be. Author of many bestsellers including; The Invention Map, The Ghost Map, Everything Bad Is Good For You and more. Johnson is an avid contributor to Time, The Economist, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Written for the curious scientist, Where Good Ideas Come From attracts a wide range of readers to partake in its in-depth investigation of the mind, including human innovation and natural curiosity. A page-turner without much need for context, Johnson is able to spark curiosity in the readers’ minds with thought provoking claims and revelatory answers. Continue reading “Book Review- Helen, Mike, Matt”

Book Review- Helen, Mike, Matt

Notorious Insanity Defense Cases

http://listverse.com/2012/04/11/top-10-most-notorious-insanity-defense-cases/

There have been countless cases in which heinous crimes have been committed and the defendant has pleaded guilty, despite evidence that proves otherwise. Is it fair for the victim or their families to see the person responsible for the crime in a way “get off” by going to a hospital for the criminally insane? Although they are still punished, people almost justify the terrible actions by saying “that person is insane” or “crazy.” While they obviously are to have committed such gruesome crimes, they are still guilty of taken a life, or in many cases multiple. Pictured is Jeffrey Dahmer is tried to plead guilty for sex, cannibalism, necrophilia, and dismemberment. He was denied the plea and yet the public still viewed him as criminally insane.

Notorious Insanity Defense Cases

DNA tests are jailing innocent people

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-19412819

This article talks about David Butler, who spent eight wrongful months in prison after being convicted off of DNA testing. Butler faced murder charges after his DNA was allegedly found on the victim. The results showed a partial match of his DNA and was enough for the police to convict him. He had originally given the police his DNA before following a burglary in his mother’s home, so there was a record of him. People are beginning to believe the current climate of relying mainly on DNA testing has made police lazy. Had Butler not previously given DNA to be a partial match, would even have been linked to the murder? How many people could have also been a partial match and just not in the system? New innovations must be made to change the current system of relying on DNA or proven inaccurate eyewitness testimony.

DNA tests are jailing innocent people

The Government has your baby’s DNA

Annie Brown’s daughter, Isabel, was a newborn baby when the doctor told her parents she was at a high risk for cystic fibrosis. Both mom and dad were grateful to be warned of her potential risk for disease, but then quickly began to question how the doctor even had that information about their daughter. The doctor informed them that all babies in the U.S are screened for genetic diseases. This obviously raises many ethical issues and whether or not is an invasion of privacy to test newborns without the parents knowledge. Personally, I would not mind having my child tested without my knowledge because the information is for medical research and purposes. However, a majority of people do not agree with the testing and therefore should be informed.

The Government has your baby’s DNA

Misidentification

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Psychological studies done for the last few decades prove eye-witness testimony can be very inaccurate for a variety of reason. For starters, the longer the time waited before a trial, the less likely the victim is to accurately recall details of the event. The theory of false memory proves that over time we are exposed to many details and experiences that can alter our perception of what actually happened. Even line-ups are proved to be frighteningly inaccurate because when people go through a traumatic event actual memories can be blocked. Someone who appears to look like the attacker could be selected out of a line-up, when in fact the victim unknowingly chose the wrong person is likely to not even be present. Although the method is inaccurate, people are unsure of how to change the system.

Misidentification

Innocence Project

“Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide.”- The Innocence Project

Marvin Anderson is unfortunately one of many to wrongfully accused of committing a crime due to lack of DNA testing. On July 19, 1982, Anderson was questioned by police on a rape and was innocent so believed he had nothing to lose by answering. However, despite his alibi, Anderson was convicted of rape, abduction, sodomy and robbery, largely on the basis of this eyewitness misidentification, and was sentenced to 210 years. Finally after 15 years in prison, new DNA evidence proved his innocence and he was released. Had DNA testing been present, Anderson would not have lost an entire 15 years of his life. Even today there could be people in prison wrongfully accused due to a lack of technology.

http://www.innocenceproject.org/causes-wrongful-conviction/eyewitness-misidentification

Innocence Project

Stepping Back

Although somewhat of a complex concept, inventions since the beginning of time have spurred off the idea of another individual. I do not believe anyone can say they have had a 100% original idea that did not require a part or concept from another persons work. For example, even Thomas Edison and the inventions of electricity and the light bulb was not solely his own. The parts and pieces used to construct the lightbulb was the work of someone else. I modern times, social media would not be possible without the computer, internet, etc. By no means are collaboration, liquid networks and open platforms negative terms. Rather, it proves humans rely on interaction and the mines of each other to fully explore the adjacent impossible.

 

Livermore_Centennial_Light_Bulb

Stepping Back

Platforms

Screen shot 2016-02-08 at 4.31.26 PM

Unlike Apple, Twitter takes full advantage of other companies and resources. The use of “#” and “@” is the ultimate adjacent impossible that can lead to millions of other connections and sources. Twitter is undoubtedly successful and it can be said the popularity is due to its open platform. Information from ultimately any official and unofficial resource can be shared and found in seconds.

Platforms

Exaption

“A T‑shirt for sale in the company store, which is open to the public at 1 Infinite Loop, reads: I VISITED THE APPLE CAMPUS. BUT THAT’S ALL I’M ALLOWED TO SAY.”-Adam Lashinsky

Fortune senior editor, Adam Lashinsky is author to a book that tells the secrets behind Apple and their success. He explains how Apple headquarters is designed the opposite of their air-tight reputation, with a college-like appearance including volleyball courts. However, employees and visitors have limited access to the company information and ideas. Despite their non-collaborative nature, Apple is more successful than ever.

Exaption

How much error is too much error?

If good ideas come from error and mistakes, then why in school from the time we are 4 years old does everyone stress perfection? School systems have grades and standards to which if not met, students are looked down upon and suffer in one way or another. On a multiple choice quiz or test, error is very likely and can be a learning experience, but why are we punished with bad grades?

How much error is too much error?