California: Hotbed of Innovation

Introduction

 

Biotechnology as a major field within science has led to many new companies copying the Genentech blueprint: having a small company creating commercially viable products to earn profits. This movement from a purely academic scope of research to a company thriving in an industrial market has become a popular choice for those interested in the sciences, offering more career opportunities. From the 1970s on, a number of companies would emerge to follow the example set by Genentech. This would result in a major growth of the field, located in California.

California has become the true center of biotechnology in the U.S, as the birth place of the industry as well as having numerous companies making products in a multitude of fields. Because of this environment, being surrounded by other biotech companies, a sense of innovation is greatly encouraged, as competition will enable a surge of creativity. This anthology details several examples of how California has become the epicenter of biotech, ranging from peculiar facts about the history of Californian biotech to present companies developing new products within the biotech field. The hotbed of innovation exhibited by the California environment is shown through the amount of diverse companies and novel products.

Continue reading “California: Hotbed of Innovation”

California: Hotbed of Innovation

Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology

           Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes is an engaging look at the birth of a new type of industry, the field of biotechnology. Research with the natural sciences has always been an academic pursuit, to figure out how the world and everything in it functions. However, in the 1970s, as biology and chemistry continued to develop alongside technology, business was bound to get involved. Hughes, as a scientific historian from the hotbed of technology and biotech in California, details the entire life of the first Biotech company, Genentech. Her genealogy of the story on this small, yet influential company begins with the technique of producing recombinant DNA and the capacity to produce a large amount of clones of the desired DNA. From this scientific breakthrough, a few key players would emerge, and eventually start Genentech, with a goal of using recombinant DNA to make industrial products. Continue reading “Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology”

Biotech and Business: The emergence of private sector Biology

The Omnipresence of DNA

DNA has been used to tie criminals to their crimes for years now, but how exactly does that process happen? What is DNA? How can it be matched to a suspect? How much DNA is necessary to be a useable sample? Is DNA enough to convict someone in a courtroom? Samantha Weinberg answers these questions and many more in her nonfiction book Pointing From the Grave: A True Story of Murder and DNA. This novel tells the true story about Dr. Helena Greenwood, a thriving marketing director at a biotechnology company. Greenwood worked at the forefront of the biotechnology world, and had her sights set on getting involved in DNA fingerprinting. In 1984, Dr. Greenwood was sexually assaulted at her home in San Francisco. She was set to be the key witness during the trial, but in 1985, she was murdered outside her home in San Diego. With a suspect, but no evidence, the case went cold for 15 years before the technology that Greenwood had been so hopeful about was the exact technology that set her case to rest. Continue reading “The Omnipresence of DNA”

The Omnipresence of DNA

Would you defend a guilty man

In this chapter, we are now clear that Frediani is guilty. Some have their doubts about this reality, but the probability of his guilt is much higher than that of his innocence. This makes me wonder, if the defense attorney knows his or her client is guilty, do you think they lack morality in a sense that they are defending a guilty man. It is vague to me of what a defense lawyer really wants. Is it money or justice. It is likely that Frediani’s lawyer knew he was guilty via the evidence the prosecution presented. Does this make the lawyer any less of a person. Socially, would it be normal for people to assume that one trying to defend a convict is just as guilty. With this thought in mind, I feel hate and anger would be present toward that defense attorney.

Would you defend a guilty man

Who decides on death

Towards the end of this chapter it is said that there is difficulty in placing a burden on a jury and giving them the power to decided if a man lives or not. Obviously, this is true to some extent, but on the contrary it does sound extremely terrifying. If a mans life is placed inside the grasp of random people that are likely to have no knowledge on the defendant, this can be extremely controversial. I think that this should be the case on crimes where the prosecution is able to describe and analyze the crime so throughly that the jurors can almost paint the picture in their heads, but cases like Frediani, there was a good amount of vagueness in the obtained evidence, most of which the jury had no knowledge of. I think that placing someones life inside the hands of the uninformed results in an undeserved fate for the defendant

Who decides on death

Prosecution Frustration

on page 230, this conversation takes place between Laura, Vic and Frediani: “Then how come we have your DNA?” “As far as DNA evidence, oh, I’m sure you’ve got some DNA evidence that probably points to me. Where you got it, how you got it, that’s a whole different matter. I’ve been in your custody for a long time.” “Why would we want to plant evidence?” Clearly these prosecutors are trying to get a confession out of him in a tactic that seems to be duress. Frediani remains calm and shows no evidence of fear or nervousness. He claims that the obtained DNA at the scene was not directly pointing to him for the crime. I feel that sometimes, if the prosecution is biased against the defendant, they may try and squeeze out a vague and false confession just to put him away. Is this type of aggression during interrogations fair.

Prosecution Frustration

Is it Good, or Unfair

On Page 216 it say “lt was good for us that Frediani knew nothing about our investigations,” said Laura Heilig. This makes me wonder, why is it good that Frediani does not know anything about the investigations, given his current mental state and his plea, what would him having knowledge on every step the prosecution took to convict him have to do with the chance of conviction. This makes me think that if she had said that then there is a possibility that some strings were pulled illegally. In one of my posts I had elaborated on the fact that Frediani was guilty before proven innocent. Do you think that it is fair for the police or prosecution members to obtain evidence in a snake like way, just to see a man that hasn’t been proven guilty yet put away for life.

Is it Good, or Unfair

DNA or Not

In this chapter there were ideas contemplating whether or not DNA should be admissible in court. This reasoning is based off the notion that prosecution teams and juries filled with average citizens are likely to know minimal information when it comes to DNA and DNA testing. I do not think it is fair that the prosecution and jury are expected to blindly accept information that they know close to nothing about, I think that this can lead to many false convictions and acquisitions and that is not fair to an innocent defendant. Yes it does help with many convictions but I think that the risk here outweighs the reward, there is always a chance of false conviction, do you think an innocent mans life is worth the continuation of DNA use in court

DNA or Not

Less Sentence Because of Plea or No Plea Taken

In this chapter Frediani changed his plea from not guilty to no contest. Do you think that he had done this because he feels guilty or for the reason that he would simply like a less severe punishment. This makes me think of the large amount of deals the prosecution can make with the defense, all around similar reason. This also makes me think is it smart to release a convicted felon three years earlier because of a plea bargain? In some cases of misdemeanors and petty crimes yes that is agreeable but for felons like frediani, do you think it is the best option to release someone convicted of rape and assault because he “pleaded guilty”.

Less Sentence Because of Plea or No Plea Taken

20/20 Left Out

In this chapter it is mentioned that Frediani had gotten eye surgery in order to improve his overall sight. Do you think that if the jury had known this his punishment would have been less secure? even it wasn’t i’m sure they would have sent him to a different because the psychiatric evaluation would have been different. This component would have been a useful weapon in Frediani’s arsenal, why do you think that this piece was left out during the trial. This makes me think about other trials where key pieces of information is left out. If this is common in our lawful world do you think that convictions and sentencing are less definite than we think they are.

20/20 Left Out

Who Deserves What:What Deserves Who

In this chapter there was confusion as to who should have gotten all the credit in the discovery made by Mullis and Erlich. This makes me think about the importance of patenting. Without a doubt, the confusion that was present would have easily been dismissed with the use of a patent. On the contrary, if both innovators deserve an equal amount of credit for both of their works, do you think a patent would be the best option? If there was equal contribution to the overall discovery then both men deserve an equal amount of recognition. Then again, competition would have contradicted the idea of equal recognition because one man will always want more then the next.

Who Deserves What:What Deserves Who

Fallacy Assumption

in the beginning of this chapter, Frediani’s lawyer talks about how he needed to know where he was and with who on the day of August 22nd. This makes me think that the prosecutors wanted to pin everything on Paul even with the lack of hard evidence they had. I think that the prosecution had thought that Frediani was automatically guilty considering the heat he was already under. This makes me think of many false convictions that have occurred in the past, there have been countless instances where the prosecution convicts an innocent defendant based off nothing but assumptions. I think that Frediani’s conviction was a little hasty due to the fact that everyone wanted to see him go down. Guilty or Not Guilty.

Fallacy Assumption

Due Process

In this chapter, the police interrogated a 17 year old boy in hope to obtain enough evidence in order to convict him. Being that the boy is still a minor, do you think the police denied him of his natural rights in some way? I feel if the boy had a lawyer or a guardian by his side this interrogation would have gone differently. It is more than likely that the boy has never been in a situation similar to this one, it may be a possibility that the police got a false confession from acts including duress. It is also likely that the boy had not been familiarized with his right to a lawyer. I feel this situation would have went down a lot differently if an adult was by his side.

Due Process

Justice or Revenge

In this chapter the jury was not notified of Helena’s death. Obviously this happened while the trial was underway, not before. This makes me think what if the jury had known that she was murdered. Do you think the punishment toward the defendant would have been more harsh? or is it just a humane right for the jury to be notified of this death. I feel if the jury had known about this, this would have forced a biased opinion, maybe it is right but the punishment would have to fit the crime and the jury would have been thinking in vengeful ways because the last memory Helena had was one of hate due to the defendants actions.

Justice or Revenge

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

Theoretical and Evolutional Networking Connections

Our physical, emotional and mentally evolving universe has many known limitations in fields of chemistry, biology, biotechnology and innovative sciences overall. These limitations are nothing but mental barriers that are bound to be overcame using the basis of innovation that our great ancestors founded many years ago. Where Good Ideas Come From written by Steven Johnson makes clear and somewhat short the long and tedious step-by-step process in which innovation progressed. In this science related nonfiction piece, Steve Johnson, a formidable writer and historian, talks about the different variations of ways in which ideas come to be, how they are/were implemented, the best ways these ideas can come to surface and how they contribute to the overall spectrum of innovative thinking. This writing contains a wealth of information relative to what everything is today and how it came to be, thus making it relevant and interesting to audiences of all sorts. Continue reading “Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From”

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From

Rough Childhood

Frediani life as a kid might have been unstable and rather violent when he was kid. There is a likelihood that this can be tied to the accusations of rape toward him. It is very common that most criminals that commit rape, murder etc are victims of violence at the hands of their parents when they were kids. I think that if the treatment was better in Frediani’s childhood then the crime accusations would not have existed. This also brings me to the idea that there is ultimately no choice the criminal has if he or she was raised in a similar fashion, years after years of child abuse and negative influence must make the criminal a certain amount of insane.

Rough Childhood

Blame it On The Alcohol

Frediani lies about his relevance to the crime at first, then claims that it had taken place because he was drunk. In the criminal world this idea of “blaming it on the alcohol” seems to be popular. However, it seems to increase the chances of hardened punishment. This brings me to the idea that if alcohol was not present in at least fifty percent of crime, would that fifty percent be less than it is? maybe if criminals were not drunk at the time of certain wrongdoing I feel there is a huge possibility that the crime would not happen. All in all, in the world of crime alcohol seems to be a huge accessory to some crime, if this stupidity was eliminated I feel crime rates would decrease drastically.

Blame it On The Alcohol

Platforms vs Patents 2

Reading this chapter made me think of the issue with patents discussed in class a while ago, and gives me a remembrance of the question if patents are more effective than platforms. Mendel did not receive any recognition for his work, this surely was an annoyance for him. Do you think if his work was patented and he got all the credit for his work, it would have had an effect on others implementing his work because they knew it was his. His work was ultimately a platform because even though it was his idea, others were able to feed off of it legally.

Platforms vs Patents 2

Law in Science or Science in Law

When Helena mentions she wants to be the bridge or connection between those that work in suits, which is referencing those working in the law field with people that work in her science based field. I wondered if she meant she would want to use her knowledge in science to improve the way law works, or did she mean she wants to use the ideas used in the field of law to improve her knowledge in her job field. From this speculation I realize that many different ideas can contribute to both fields i.e DNA. Since this discovery, the world of forensics was discovered, I wonder if any more connections between the two can help revolutionize ideas used in either field.

Law in Science or Science in Law

Importance of the Double Helix

In todays forensic based world, DNA lies of great importance in finding rapists, murders etc. In chapter one, the prosecution seems to be riding on the notion that Helena will be able to identify her attacker whenever she saw him. However, she can only give broad details about his appearance including his height, build and skin color. There are many men with similar builds, ultimately leaving Helena to pick out her attacker like a needle in a haystack. What I had thought about this is what if Helena had relied on the use of his DNA from when he ejaculated on her face and pillow, this case would have been non-existent because the evidence they would have gathered would have been factual.

Importance of the Double Helix

Connected Failures

After reading the last chapter of Johnson’s Where Good Ideas come from it became more clear to me how the process of implementing an innovation is played out. Putting this process into four quadrants I feel helps others understand the time and commitment that must go into fully implementing a hunch or idea. What this made me wonder was in order to reach the forth quadrant when talking about a hunch or innovation, the innovator must have had many reoccurring instances of failure, if these failures for a certain hunch were used in the four quadrant process for another hunch I feel it is more than likely that the process for implementing this hunch would be a lot faster and more efficient. This is relative to the ideas seen in Chapter 3 of Johnson’s book.

Connected Failures

Patents vs Platforms

The idea of platforms is ultimately formed off the notion that ideas can always build off one another in order to improve innovation all together. When thinking about this idea I come to realize that if this idea is such a success renovator then why do governments suggest the use of patents? Patents are basically the complete opposite of the idea of platforms. In my eyes I see less problems and controversy arising from the use of patents. Due to the uncertainty of creation that would arise from platforms I do see cons in this theory. Although it may help innovators come up with ideas in a much more smooth and speedy way it will eventually cause ownership problems.

Patents vs Platforms

False Interpretation

In this chapter it was mentioned that the idea of ‘exaptation’ is central to the idea that animals develop certain adaptions and physical prowess for a specific use. Following that point, it is mentioned that after years of research on a specified animal, the function that we had thought the animal had grown a certain adaption for was for something else. For example, for decades we thought that birds had developed feathers for warmth, but it turns out that a birds feathers have many more functions that we had thought in the first place, like air regulation and flight stimulation. What I got from this idea brought up in chapter 6 was it may be possible that birds could have used this unknown trait for the specified uses stated for many years, we just hadn’t known about it. All in all, I feel that certain theories are solely based off of human idea, not biological evidence.

False Interpretation

Failure or Teamwork

In this chapter it is mentioned several times that de Forest had failed many times while implementing one of his most critical innovations, I was wondering if it would had been more effective in a timeliness sense if other hunches and ideas were connected to his, or was it most effective for him to “fail forward.” This also ties back into the idea that every hunch takes a while to be fully implemented and even with that said not every hunch ends up being fully introduced.I get the feeling that “failing forward” and having a team behind you is what is best for implementation.

Failure or Teamwork

Contradictory Themes

When it is mentioned that organizational inspiration is built off information networks that allow hunches to disperse and recombine, I feel like this idea can be easily contradicted, for some hunches in the past and in the future may be better off forming side by side. When hunches disperse it is likely that they will not rejoin again. Examples include the hunches that were on the way into being fully implemented in order to prevent 911. These hunches dispersed and never rejoined, the rejoining of these hunches could have resulted in a lesser consequence on that day. With every theme in this book i have come to a realization that every idea and theory can exert contradictory ideas.

Contradictory Themes

Connections are better than separation

I thought it was interesting how the lack of connection between certain hunches proved to be a disastrous problem, if hunches about the 9/11 attack had be intertwined, maybe the attack could have been prevented. There are also many ideas contradicting to this. When certain hunches are connected and eventually work to get together to get to one implementation it could cause problems like who gets the credit for the one hunch. This result can bring us to other conclusions and ideas that hunches could be better off forming individually in order to avoid future problems between the innovators of these hunches.

Connections are better than separation

Everyday Relation

I thought it was interesting how the theory of the ‘edge of chaos’ can be applied to almost everything, what I thought of off the bat is packing for college, too much can prove to be a nuisance, too little can prove to be a dilemma. It is rather a redundant occurrence that people tend to go overboard with certain things. For example when people spend to much time exercising they expose themselves to injury or even physical exhaustion. On the contrary, when people get too little exercise they begin to live an unhealthy and dangerous lifestyle. This concept of ‘edge of chaos’ is not only a formidable theory it is also a way of life.

Everyday Relation

You are who you are around with

“Good ideas are like the NeoNurture device. They are, inevitably, constrained by the parts and skills that surround them”(Johnson 28).

I think this is extremely interesting and furthermore relative to everyday life. In order to improve something, for example bad behavior, you must surround yourself with better people and things in order to succeed. This is relative to some of the ideas included in the adjacent possible, for example it is mentioned that for ideas to bloom, it is vital that the environment and people you are surrounded by must have a similar goal as you. If you are trying to find a cure for cancer, it is best for you to be surrounded by people that wish to do the same, not people with goals that oppose or differ from yours.

You are who you are around with

Intro: Paradox’s to Theories

In chapter 1, I thought it was interesting how Johnson includes many factors of how Darwin’s Paradox came to be, from reading this I can see the how the love Darwin had for the workings of nature and its inhabitants lead up to his most societal influential theory of Darwinism. This can relate to the commonplace book mentioned in chapter 3 because if darwin had not written all this ideas and theories on paper, it would have been likely that his own spectrum of idea would have been too large for his mind to fathom. Every little thing adds to a bigger theme, accounting for each of those little things lies of great importance in constructing the bigger picture.

Intro: Paradox’s to Theories