Scientific Anthology: Mediocre Scientists That Turned Out to be Brilliant

Introduction

Many people have the belief that successful scientists were geniuses since the day they were born. They think that scientists were straight A students in grade school and in high school. Many, even believe that school was not hard for them at all However, it is quite the opposite. Many scientists were not so brilliant when they were in school, and is not until later that they discovered their true potential. Some scientists that are admired by everyone were simply okay students and others were not good students at all. It wasn’t until they actually started working that they became brilliant scientists. It was their hard work and passion they had for their job that lead them to be as successful as they became.

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Scientific Anthology: Mediocre Scientists That Turned Out to be Brilliant

The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity

 Sally Smith Hughes is an Academic Specialist in History of Science. She studied at the University of California, Berkley. She does research in biology which reflect her areas of interest. Moreover, she published a book called Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech. This book focuses on the beginning of the company Genentech. The company struggled through various obstacles including obstacles with the government and within the company. In the prologue the author notes, “The making of Genentech was in fact racked by problems, internal and external” (i). Despite of all the obstacles, the company managed to grow and make life changing discoveries.

The two founders of Genentech Stanley Cohen and Herbert Boyer both worked on the basic-research techniques. However, “they immediately foresaw its practical applications in making plentiful quantities of insulin, growth hormone, and other useful substances in bacteria,” (1). This brought internal problems because they started seeing a different direction of what they wanted to discover. Some wanted to go straight to the discovery of insulin, while others wanted to discover somatostatin. Even though it wasn’t as a strong fight as the others, their differences started to show. Their problems grew when they started publishing articles, “Then a heated dispute over authorship broke out,” (65). The more they were able to do, the more complicated it became for them. Robert Swanson started helping in managing the company and focused on getting financial security for the company. Nevertheless, some did not love the way he managed things. The author notes, “As his severest critics put it, he was ‘selling out to the industry,’” (71). It is obvious that working in such a huge project isn’t easy, and all of their fights proved that. Continue reading “The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity”

The full spectrum of scientific ingenuity

Employement agreements

Kleid and Goeddel then signed employment agreements, giving Genentech title to all inventions and protecting the company from unauthorized disclosure proprietary information, a routine practice in industrial research labs. – Hughes page 85

Kleid and Goeddell both gave Genentech their rights for any inventions that they make; this however, does not sound like such a good idea. I am not a scientist, but if I put my time and effort in discovering something then I would love to have my name on it, or take it with me if I resign. This would be a huge draw back for them as scientist but a huge gain for Genentech because they get new inventions no matter if they leave or stay, they will get the credit. The fact of letting a company take credit for your work is not necessarily the best move for a career, unless you become a name independently. They should have tried to get those rights.

Employement agreements

Success at a young age

“We were young, and when you are successful, it helps enormously with your whole state of mind. It helps with your confidence; it helps with the publications you write; it helps with your future, with your career” – Hughes page 51

Being successful at a young age is something that we all definitely would like. In this book, these young scientists are making discoveries and working hard to achieve their goals. However, being young and successful also came with many fights. Since they were young and this was new stuff being tried, a lot of stress was added to their plates. So how much of this success was a blessing for them? Is it better to have a rough start and be secure about your decision making in the future? It does help in the confidence area, but it seems that the scientists in the group are being taken away from the point of their research.

Success at a young age

Opportune Timing of Discovery

“Pointing from the Grave” by Samantha Weinberg is a captivating murder-mystery novel. Weinberg received her degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and went on to become a journalist, novelist, and travel writer. In this book, she focuses on the journey of a man who had been prosecuted for several years. She talks about the scientific evidence and the evolution science has played to solve crimes. She touches the themes of fingerprints, DNA evidence, and psychopath characteristics. Her book is aimed to people with curiosity about criminal investigations. In 1985 Helena Greenwood was attacked and sexually assaulted at her home in Southern California. Ironically, Helena Greenwood was in the biotechnology realm where DNA evidence was on its way to being discovered. This was the start of an investigation that lasted over a decade, and involved the use of innovative technology. Continue reading “Opportune Timing of Discovery”

Opportune Timing of Discovery

Sociopath

“She said that, in her view, Frediani has the personality of a sociopath: charismatic, impulsive, hedonistic, smart, manipulative, faithless in sexual relationships, and ultimately remorseless”  – Weinberg, 339

Fifteen years later, Frediani is convicted of a murder that he did not commit. This psychologist that was on the trial has studied Frediani and has come to the conclusion that Frediani is a sociopath. These types of people, as mentioned in the quote, do not show remorse. However, later in the book he mentions that it was antidepressants that is what has made him continue on, and he would cry for no reason. In my opinion, him crying is showing emotions and it was when the feeling that he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. He did show charisma, was impulsive with his exes, very smart, and sometimes it seemed he was manipulative, but is he really a sociopath?

Sociopath

Power of DNA

“…Now the whole world knows the power of DNA. The trouble is that in the courtroom, there’s always going to be some people saying one thing and some people saying another. The jury’s job is to look at the people and figure out who is lying. Now these molecules have made their job much easier, because they don’t have the capability to lie. – Weinberg, pg 263

It is not a secret that crimes are more easily solved when there is DNA evidence supporting the case. If no DNA is found, then the crime can become a much slower process. Nevertheless, even if DNA is found, the person’s whose DNA was found will still try to defend themselves (unless in the case that they give up). So, there will always two groups saying something different things. DNA cannot lie, it is there and it has an owner. People however can still get away with murder if there DNA is found. How is that so? There has been rare cases where the DNA is there, and we all know it doesn’t lie and people get away with it. Of course, the lawyer must have done a great job. However, if people’s words can win over DNA, how powerful is it actually? In my opinion it insanely powerful, but people should not be confident they will win a case if the DNA is found, because the jury can still be convinced with the other team’s words.

 

Power of DNA

DNA and Innocence

“For every case in which the criminal justice systems of the world has been proven  – primarily through the agency of DNA – to be too eager to convict the innocent, there are multiple examples of guilty people slipping through their nets and escaping punishment” -Weinberg, pg 201

It has been a great topic of controversy whether people should go to jail if their fingerprint is found in the place where the murder happened or if the person that was murdered had the DNA of someone else. However, the Innocent project tries to calm down convictions so that people that could be innocent do not go to jail. In my opinion, someone who goes to jail only in the basis of DNA should not be found guilty. So the Innocent project makes a lot of sense, because it is not fair for people to convicted in a crime with only one compromising evidence. Therefore, it is important that they do not act with eagerness.

DNA and Innocence

Double personality

Eileen remembers his ugly temper, and also his emotional romantic side. “He has two personalities,” she said, “Just like a Jekyll and Hyde. He even looked different when he was in a rage, his nostrils flaring, these wild eyes, this rage…”- Weinberg, page 185

This description of his other girlfriend makes it seem like he had a double personality. Like even his eyes changed and it looked like he was a different person. Normally, when people get angry they say stuff that they don’t mean. However, this seems to be someone who could have a double personality. If not, he may have anger management issues that he should be treated for. After everything he went through in the trial and having abused of his girlfriends by treating the horribly, he should try to get treatment for it. Maybe the description for double personality may be too much, but controlling his anger could be his problem.

Double personality

Whose fingerprints?

” ‘… not Helena Greenwood’s fingerprints, not Roger Franklin’s… usable, identifiable fingerprints of an unknown person. On the screen.’ They were not Paul Frediani’s fingerprints. ” Weingberg, page 105

This part of the the chapter really caught my attention becuase Frediani was charged anyway. This is a big indicator that there was someone else in the house that could have done this crime. If they are trusting that there is a 14% chance that it was Frediani, they should trust that there is 100% chance that someone else was in the house because of those fingerprint found. It is hard to believe that someone was convicted when there are another two thousand people that could have had the same results. It seems that their argument did not have as much evidence as they actually need to convict someone. First the should find the person who’s fingerprints were in the house.

Whose fingerprints?

Autopsy

“This confirmed Decker’s initial suspicion that Helena’s killer was a large man – strangulation is a very physical crime, and requires great strength. – Weignberg, page 76

Autopsies are essential to crime solving, it can determine how the person died and who was most likely to do such crime. I guess this brought my attention because of how fast they could determine a physical appearance on Helena’s murderer. They were also very descriptive of what could have caused her death. It seemed like it was all done much more faster than with the fingerprint or the DNA. Nevertheless, even tough it is faster it is not as effective in a trial. People need more than autopsy to believe who was the murderer. But using DNA or fingerprint is less doubtful to prosecute someone.

Autopsy

Book Review

“Where Good Ideas Come From” by Steven Johnson, is a book that tries to understand where innovation comes from. The author is very well recognized; he has written for several newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and is co-founder of three influential websites (“Steven johnson”). He investigates from environmental spaces how humans try to make better ideas every time. In this book, he analyzes different theories which could reveal how humans come up with ideas for innovation. He talks about the adjacent possible, the world wide web, the environment where good ideas rise and the slow hunches. Most importantly, in his first chapter he talks about how ideas work so in the rest of the book we know that ideas are networks, millions of neurons coming together. This book is interesting for making the reader question how important come to be. Continue reading “Book Review”

Book Review

Evidence

“He could not believe that he will be convicted on such flimsy evidence, but Collins has warned him that he must be prepared to go to trial.” – Weinberg, page 56

Whether he is guilty or not, his DNA was found in a pot outside Helena’s house. We are aware that DNA is a very concrete evidence, however the fact it was outside changes a lot of things. Anyone could have touched that pot and could have been wrongly convicted. When there is a DNA role I believe that it has taken from a place that prosecutors are certain that only them could have committed the crime. If there is something that plays such a big role in finding criminals like DNA, we should be more careful of where we find it. If not, a lot of people may be convicted for wrong things.

Evidence

The Future and Science

“When Arthur Conan Doyle wrote this, there was no way to determine whether a dried bloodstain was human or animal.” Weinberg, page 49

When the author Conan Doyle wrote the mysteries and solved them, the way he solved that one mystery was discovered not much later. It caught my attention since we are never able to know what may be just fictional or what can eventually turn into reality so easily. There are so many things that we read, but we don’t really take them into account. However, they can be the near the future without us realizing it. People that read Sherlock Holmes probably did not even think that what they were reading would actually become an essential thing for crime solving and for identifying people in other situations.

The Future and Science

Human Characteristics

“It explained so much: why sibling humans can differ in hair and eye color, for example, why brown-eyed parents can have a blue-eyed child, but not the other way around; it is the way individualism is preserved.”

Brother Gregor Mendel’s discovery was not put into consideration that he got depressed and did not want to know more about science. However, his discovery was not only crucial for plant pees, but for human characteristics as well. My siblings and I are always asked why don’t we look alike, it is a common question, and he brought out the answer. However, it was not taken into consideration. In our history, it is kind of common that we feel like some discoveries are not as important. Just like in the chapter they also said that the world was not ready to know what the DNA was like. Nevertheless, they could have known if they had listened. It just took them a bit more time to accept the discovery. Brother Mendel made a great discovery using pees that it is not only helpful for plants, but for us as well.

Human Characteristics

Future in DNA

She knew her future lay in science, and already she was turning her attention to DNA, the molecule that was reorienting the worlds of biology and chemistry, smashing preconceptions, and opening vistas that spread from pre-birth to eternal life. – Weinberg, page 14

Helena in the book already knew she wanted to be a scientist. She knew a lot about how biology and technology were the future in our society. It is pretty shocking how she had so much knowledge and when it could help her life to solve her case, she could not use it. It is kind of ironic how much effort she put to it her life studying it and then not being able to use in such an important event in her life. I guess that it would also be hard for her to study it later, knowing how she could have helped herself. Nevertheless, I cannot state that as a fact, but an assumption of how I would feel.

 

Future in DNA

DNA

I started this journey with only the vaguest idea of what DNA is and does, and it is in large part thanks to Matt Ridley’s erudite and informative Genome that I made it out of the starting gates – page, vii

This quote really caught my attention because what DNA has enabled us to do is massive. We have solved many mysteries by understanding the DNA. Not only crimes, but it helped us solve health mysteries. It has given us an idea of what each face could look like and not only that, but how we could be like personality wise. Of course, one of the greatest things it has done is being able to solve mysteries. If it were not for that a lot of criminals would still be out in the loose and be a danger to society.

DNA

Suppressed Ideas

“State-run economies were fundamentally hierarchies, not networks.”

In the beginning of the book we learned that networks come to be when things work together. At the end of this chapter, we learn how ideas can become something bigger and can change the way we live. However, in economies where the government leaves no space for people to make their decisions, and so there is no space for growth and for the adjacent possible. The government chooses what can be seen and what cannot be seen. However, in a market there is competition and people can discover new things by themselves. In my opinion its better when there is a market.

Suppressed Ideas

Platforms

“The most generative platforms come in stacks, most conspicuously in the layered platform of the Web.” – Johnson, page 189

Out of the whole chapter, the way platforms came stuck most my attention. That was because the way platforms are made help innovation. Like it all starts from small to bigger ideas. And so, when small ideas and platforms come to be, bigger come to be. For example, social media started out as something small and now it is something incredibly big where people are able to communicate. Not only are they able to communicate, but now it is a place where they can watch and read the news. maxresdefault

Platforms

Evolution

Once again, chance and happy accidents are central to narrative: a random mutation lead to the evolution of feathers selected for warmth, and by chance those feathers turn out to be useful for flying, particularly after they’ve been modified to create an airfoil.

It is incredible to me how nature is. We start getting used to how we are and then with our nature we start changing and adapting. In the beginning we don’t get it, but then we realize that nature knows what it is doing. We may think that evolution may be for one reason, but nature is always one step ahead of us. It does not only change species for one reason, but because of what might come ahead too. For examples, these feathers that came to be for one reason and then it helped them fly in a certain way. 14565772169_4f3c33a00c_b

Evolution

What you learn in History

You can learn a great deal about the history of innovation by examining great ideas that changed the world. – Johnson page 72

As said in a previous post, we can learn a lot from the ideas that have risen before. We learn from the mistakes and the achievements others have made in the past. This way we can learn what works in our society and what does not. Most great ideas are those that have a large impact in the world. It is important that we take into account that in order for us to know this, we have to have access to the ideas that were brought up before. This could lead to something good or bad depending on how people take it. I believe however, that ideas are to be shared and discussed so we know if it something better left untouched. 201500008425

What you learn in History

Idea

“A good Idea is a network. A specific constellation of neurons – thousands of them – fire in sync with each other for the first time in your brain, and an idea pops into your consciousness.” – Johnson, page 45

I had never really thought of how I or people come up with ideas. It is the most common thing in our every day life. Every day we wake up and have thousands of ideas. However, in this every day life occurrence, there are millions of neurons making connections so that in one second we are thinking of an idea that help us make our lives easier. It is actually a process that we take for granted. These neurons all work in sync so we can think and motivate ourselves to do something with our lives. It is a network, meaning that they are working together to make something big.

share_your_ideas

Idea

Reef, City, Web

“Coral reefs make up about one tenth of one percent of the Earth’s surface, and yet roughly one quarter of the known species of marine life make their homes there” – Johnson, page 5

This was an astonishing number that caught my attention while I was reading the introduction of this book. I know there has been more awareness to save the coral reefs. Nevertheless, I never payed as much attention as I should have had. A large number of marine animals depend on these places to live and to reproduce. If they disappear then there would be a huge problem in the marine ecosystem. They are not just places that look pretty in the ocean but they are essential for aquatic life. Now that ai

Reef, City, Web

New paths

“The history of life and human culture, then, can be told as the story of gradual but relentless probing of the adjacent possible, each new innovation opening up new paths to explore” – Johnson, page 33

Our history and culture has been changing as time goes on. We are always making discoveries about life and we are always innovating the way we live. Our culture is made depending on where each “tribe” is and it derives from the history every group of people is. Our culture and history come together. As humans we are always trying to make new discoveries to live better and it always comes from the adjacent possible. Every time we discover something it is only with time that we will open a path to learn something else. For example in medicine. We always start with small discoveries which eventually lead to a discovery that can save lives.

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New paths

chapter 5

“An organism that constantly rescrambled the genetic code passed down to its descendants would be more innovative in its offspring, but only in the sense that those offspring would find many novel ways to perish before or shortly after birth. – Johnson, p 144

This part of the the text really caught my attention since it had to do with mutation and how we develop to become what we are. In this way we are able to survive with no dramatic change. If it would be done so drastically than it would be harder for organisms to survive. So it was interesting to understand more of the why. GP.GeneticCode

chapter 5

challenges of reproducing

“… when the world gets challenging – scarce resources, predators, parasites – you need to innovate. And the quickest path to innovation lies in making novel connections. This strategy of switching back and forth between asexual and sexual reproduction goes by the name “heterogamy” and while it is unusual, many different organisms have adopted it.” -Johnson, page 108

This part of the the reading caught my attention because it shows how organisms have learned to survive through out the years. They have adapted ways so that they will not go extinct. They have learned to combat each threat that has presented to them. Even though it is unusual, it has helped them survive and those organisms that can adopted have started using them. This is something new to me since I though that it was one or the other, but now I know that there can be various ways that these organisms can reproduce and defend themselves. It is an interesting strategy to defend themselves and gain new ways of living and mixing themselves. If not, most of these organisms would probably not exist.

challenges of reproducing

Beliefs

People in this group are most likely to see the world as a manifestation of “God’s plan” and feel modern technology is responsible for environmental crises.

This quote really interested me, because it is talking about how the views are influenced by religion, science, nature, etc. This quote however, is specifically on how really religious people may blame this on the environmental crises. It brought my attention since I was raised in a religious household never thought like that. Modern technology is to facilitate our lives and there are other factors that contribute in the environmental crises. There are things that affect the environment more negatively than this. It was also brought to my attention because I feel like people should analyze the world with what is best for it without religion, because not everyone has the same beliefs. So, it is better to come to an agreement with something that speaks to every human, regardless of their religious background.

Beliefs