Fracking on Groundswell: A Summary

The film Groundswell Rising is documentary showing how the effects of fracking are affecting towns in low socioeconomic standing. The idea of fracking is a discovery that has lead to the collection of gas during the late 1860’s. This done by drilling down deep into the Earth and injecting a high pressure mixture of water inside the hole made. The high pressure is directed at the rocks, beneath the Earth’s surface, release the gas inside the holes made. The result ends with the collect of the gas released into the rocks into wells. The growing scarcity of fossil fuels has allowed for the flourishment of the fracking industry. The growth in the fracking market is an idea mentioned in Steven Johnson’s book Where Good Ideas Come From. In it Johnson states that with unregulated markets that we have today, the growth and decline markets are allowed to occur. In this case, fracking is allowed to growing to a huge industry as a means of an alternate energy source. This growing industry can create new jobs and help many towns additional income. However, the health implications associated with fracking can cause devastating effects. During the fracking process many different types of chemical molecules are released into the air and the water supply. The side effects of fracking can lead to many birth defects, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. With all of these health and medical issues present, people affected are left to seek medical help. However, most people cannot afford to pay for their medical bills due to their low income. This situation leaves many vulnerable populations in a corner where they cannot get the medical attention that they need. Hopefully, as time goes society will generate new alternative or seek already existing technologies to resolve these important issues.

Fracking on Groundswell: A Summary

Somatostatin Information

Chapter 3 focuses on a new idea instead of insulin which is the polypeptide somatostatin. I was curious what it is used for in the body because they appear to be connecting it to insulin and the pancreas. I googled it and found that  Somatostatin, is a “polypeptide that inhibits the activity of certain pancreatic and gastrointestinal hormones.” (Encyclopedia Britannica)  Additionally  I learned that somatostatin is produced “In the pancreas, somatostatin is produced by the delta cells of the islets of Langerhans, where it serves to block the secretion of both insulin and glucagon from adjacent cells.” (Encyclopedia Britannica). I found it interesting that Alzheimers disease is found to decrease levels of the polypeptide and I wasn’t sure why. I am glad I googled what it was because I have a much clearer idea of what they are trying to accomplish and how it relates to making insulin.

http://www.britannica.com/science/somatostatin

Somatostatin Information

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

Myopia and Hyperopia

In Chapter 11 of Pointing from the Grave, Ferdiani receives surgery on his eye because he does not have 20/20 vision. I became  intrigued by the eye and decided to research on  the two common vision conditions. The  two most common types of vision conditions are nearsightedness and farsightedness. Nearsightedness( myopia) is when close objects are seen clearly but objects further away appear blurred. This happens when the light that comes to the eye does not focus directly on the retina but instead goes in front of it. When someone with nearsightedness looks in a distance the objects are not focused. Farsightedness (hyperopia) occurs when distant objects are seen clearly and close objects are not able to come into proper focus. This happens when the eyeball is short or if the cornea is not curved properly.

anatomy-of-the-eye
http://www.larsoneyecenter.com/chicago/images/anatomy-of-the-eye.gif

Works Cited: http://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/hyperopia/myopia?sso=y

Myopia and Hyperopia

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

Taq Polymerase

Chapter 10 mentions briefly that a new polymerase was discovered in 1986 by Erlich, one that would revolutionize the already occurring revolution of PCR. Taq polymerase is from the bacteria Thermis aquaticus, and was used by geneticists because of its heat resistance, as it comes from a thermophilic bacterium. I found this to be a fascinating breakthrough because this polymerase immensely increased the efficiency of PCR and would open even more doors for more fields. Even today, another bacterium has been used for its polymerase, Pyrococcus furiosis, because it is even better at copying the DNA in the PCR process than taq polymerase, by resulting in less errors due to its proofreading abilities. Moreover, this finding shows the relationship between all science fields, as genetics required microbiology to reach new heights.

Taq Polymerase

Matching Hairs and Blood Types

Two types of evidence found at the crime scene of Helena Greenwood’s assault were three strands of pubic hair, and a semen sample. Mona Ng, the criminologist who examined each piece of evidence, noted that:

“Two of the hairs could not be associated with the suspect Fredriani. The third hair could not be excluded as possibly coming from him.”  – Weinberg, p89

After checking the FBI website for information on forensic hair analysis, I learned that hair evidence can easily determine the race of a suspect and even the sex or age, albeit with more difficulty. Even though two of the strands found couldn’t be linked to Fredriani, the third could have belonged to a number of other men of the same race; Dr. Ng further explained that 14% of  population shares the blood type found in the semen sample, a statement which also expands the number of possible suspects when applied to the Bay Area alone. For these reasons I find it slightly illogical to convict Fredriani with what appears to be coincidental evidence.

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/july2000/deedric1.htm/

Matching Hairs and Blood Types

DNA Reference

“Tucked away in one of the genes we were studying was this peculiar stuttered piece of DNA that actually gave us the golden key that unlocked the door to [the evolution of genes].” (Weinberg, 113)

Its interesting how this can relate to serendipity in Johnson’s book. They weren’t necessarily looking for this “key”, but through experiment, they found it. Although they were conducting an entirely separate experiment, this breakthrough presented itself. Johnson told us how this can apply to real life situations and this was a first hand testament to Johnson’s idea. The concepts in biotechnology actually range across the whole realm of science, forensic science in particular. Johnson would appreciate knowing that his ideas were brought to life in a separate realm of science.

DNA Reference

Platforms in Criminal Justice

In chapter 8, the Pitchfork case is discussed as an example of a criminal being brought to justice by a “marriage of science and police work.”  DNA played a huge role in not only bringing a killer to justice, but also saving an innocent man from spending the rest of his life in prison.  Using blood samples, the police were able to match Pitchfork’s DNA to the blood at the crime scene and confirm him as the killer and sex offender.  But, this case is a prime example of the platforms that the criminal justice system is built on all coming to together and working in unison.  Research and development of DNA testing, fingerprinting, and behavioral analysis all came together to catch a killer.  Science was now being successfully implemented in the field of criminal justice

Platforms in Criminal Justice

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?

Failing vs. Perfecting

“This is why it is just as useful to look at the sparks that failed, the ideas that found their way to a promising region of the adjacent possible but somehow collapsed there” (Johnson, 72).

I can see this as true because most of the time the people who failed were the first ones that acted upon their ideas. This in turn made others try the idea, which helped produce someone who actually succeeded on the idea. It is because the people that succeeded on a specific idea were only able to do it because they knew which path was already a failure, and which path was never tried yet. This had people creating so many ideas just to see if one of their ideas actually was the better one. Ultimately, all these people, failures and perfecters, actually helped produce ideas from generation to generation. That is something that is so important because if these people never acted on their ideas, who knows if we would be able to make helpful advances for our everyday life.

Failing vs. Perfecting

Significance of Fingerprints in Criminal Cases

“A single print found under the lip of the teapot .. after studying it using a microscope, he found sixteen separate points of comparison, all of which matched.” .. “He (Frediani) cannot believe that he will be convicted on such flimsy evidence” – pg. 56

What constitutes significant evidence in a criminal case like this? I had to read this quote twice to make sure I was reading correctly that Frediani didn’t think his own unique fingerprint– on a teapot inside the house of the woman he is accused of sexually assaulting, would convict him of a crime. Honestly, I think this is one of the best pieces of evidence that Chaput and his team could have taken from that crime scene. Fingerprints are unique to individuals, meaning that no two people have the same fingerprint. Frediani’s fingerprint in Helena’s house is a nail in the coffin for at least burglary, and should prolong a further investigation into this incident. Highlighting the circumstances, here you have a man (Frediani) who is already a sex offender and has been convicted for public indecency and stalking in the past, who is the only suspect in this sexual assault case. With the addition of his fingerprint being found on a teapot inside the victims home, I don’t think you can classify this finger print as “flimsy evidence”.

Significance of Fingerprints in Criminal Cases

A Murder Case

As he had suspected, they were almost a perfect fit-her head, it appeared, had been repeatedly and violently bashed against the metal latch. The hairs still there, and Decker carefully collected them, and stored them in an empty cigarette packet.

It is quite amazing to learn the amount of people involved in a murder case. From the lawyers to the detectives to the doctors a murder case has many moving parts. Television shows provide a nice basis of this long and strenuous process. Each person in this case has a specific and important roll to fulfill. The lawyer has to present the compelling evidence for someone to be put in jail. The detective has to compile all the evidence and connect all the dots for the story to match the evidence. Finally the doctor must provide his professional opinion on the evidence and the victim of the murder thus providing necessary evidence for the case as a whole. Overall a murder case appears more complicated in reality than the movies or shows have portrayed to us the viewers.

A Murder Case

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

Twin Genetics

The major difference between identical and fraternal twins are the number of fertilized eggs in the process. Identical twins come from the same fertilized egg. This happens when a single embryo splits into two after fertilization. Identical twins have the same DNA because they come from the same embryo. After much research, I found out that the splitting of an embryo happens by chance and genes are not involved. Fraternal twins happens when two separate eggs are fertilized by different sperm. Due to the different sperm the DNA of fraternal twins has to be different. Women become pregnant during ovulation when an egg is released to the sperm and is fertilized. Women usually release one egg during a cycle but for fraternal twins to happen, two eggs are released during one cycle. This is called hyper ovulation. Some women have genes that enable them to hyper ovulate while others release only one egg.twins

Twin Genetics

Dr. Bennet Omalu

Dr.Bennet Omalu is a Nigerian doctor who is recognized worldwide for his discoveries in autopsies for football. With his many degrees and interest in pathology, Dr. Bennet Omalu conducted the autopsy of the Pittsburgh Steeler, Mike Webster. His autopsies of football players led to the discovery of a new disease,  chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative disease found in people who have suffered a severe blow to the head. Dr.Bennet Omalu’s discovery has changed the football world and has made it necessary for advanced protection of the brain for football players. Oman’s journey to discovery can be found in the movie “Concussion”. The movie is amazing and shows examples of the adjacent possible, liquid networks and error.

Check out this amazing video!

Video

omalu

Dr. Bennet Omalu

Sickle Cell Disease

Chapter 3 discusses Mendel’s discovery of genes, and how his study is known as “genetics”. Mutations can occur with genes and effects can occur such as Sickle Cell Disease. Sickle Cell can happen when one parent has the sickle cell trait and the other has an abnormal hemoglobin gene.If both parents are carriers there is a 1 and 4 chance that their child will have sickle cell. The disease is prevalent in populations in or from Africa, and the Middle East. These are major areas where malaria is prevalent. When someone has sickle cell their red blood cells become distorted into a sickle shape and provide low oxygen. There are many treatments for sickle cell such as blood transfusions and an array of pain medications. Unfortunately, no cure has been found. As a Ghanaian American with family members and friends who have sickle cell. I would like for many people to be aware of this disease and I hope some day someone is able to find a cure.

sickle_cell_anemia-01

Sickle Cell Disease

False Admission

In Chapter 4 of Pointing from the Grave, Frediani disputes all claims laid against only to later admit to them, claiming that he was drunk and that’s why. Along these pretences, I began to think about how often suspects lie and if it ever works in reverse; do suspects ever falsely admit to something they never actually did? After doing some research about this, I stumbled upon the Innocence Project’s website where they claim that false admissions are a huge factor in wrongful convictions. They stated that “more than 1 out of 4 people wrongfully convicted but later exonerated by DNA evidence made a false confession or incriminating statement.” Their example was that of Damon Thibodeaux, a young man who eventually admitted to raping his cousin, whose body had been found earlier that night. His story was inconsistent with injuries on the victim and it did not make sense in a timeline but that was not sufficient enough evidence to counter his admission. Damon wrongfully served 15 years in a federal prison before DNA evidence freed him.

Source

False Admission

Mental Illnesses

Everything had been going so well; he had a good job, a nice apartment in a city he loved, a pretty girlfriend, and a BMW. He had come so far, and now it was like someone was walking up to the blackboard of his life, brandishing a wet cloth. He would need his parents’ help with his attorney’s fee.

This quote struck me from the moment I read it. People’s lives can appear to perfect in one person’s eyes but radically different for another person. Paul Frediani had everything so why would he commit such a heinous act toward a woman. This could bring up the issue of metal illnesses. In the court of law mental illness is usually brought up when a person’s life is on the line as it provides a way out of capital punishment. However, as a society we often over look mental illnesses and never discover or find out the root of these problems. Mr. Frediani could have suffered from a mental illness that could have affected his decision making. Personally I feel more science and research should be poured into this field and determine if a person does or does not have the capability of being held accountable for one’s actions in a crime.

Mental Illnesses

Fingerprints

The discovery in the mid-nineteenth century that no two people had the same fingerprint-each possessed a unique maze of ridges, whorls and swirls- gave rise to the science of fingerprinting, the first great leap forward in crime detection since early law enforcers faced off against their criminal prey.

It is quite astonishing to think of the incredible importance fingerprint scanning has on law enforcement. When I was in the first grade I went to the police station for a field trip and there I got my fingerprint scanned and processed. Little did I know then how important that was for me personally and the police when processing a case. Also, it is incredible to also wonder how every person in this world has a different finger print from everyone else. Its one of those unique things that makes us human beings. Not even identical twins have the same finger prints.

Fingerprints

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

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

Huntington’s Disease: An Autosomal Dominant Disorder

“Yet only a dew countries away, in an Austrian monastery, a fat amiable monk had already-literally-planted the first seeds of what came to be called genetics”-Weinberg (pp.29)

After reading the chapter third chapter. I found that it began explaining the precursors that led to the discovery of DNA. One of the scientists that helped contribute to this discovery is Gregor Mendel. His finding shows one way parents pass on their genetic traits onto their offspring. This sparked interest for me to search for inherited genetic disorders prevalent today. One of the diseases that I found was Huntington’s disease.

Huntington’s disease is an “autosomal dominant allele” that gets passed on from parents on to their offspring. Describing Huntington’s disease as ‘”autosmal dominant” means to say that if a parent is affected with the disease then their children will also suffer from the same disease. And the children will pass on the disease to their children and so forth.  The signs and symptoms of this disease causes individuals to suffer from involuntary jerking, muscle problems, slowness in processing thoughts, social withdrawal, insomnia, and fatigue. With individuals affected with Huntington’s disease do not display signs at a young age they do appear around the ages of 35 to 40.

Currently, there is no cure for for Huntington disease. Physicians recommend affected patients to avoid pregnancy because of the high chance that their children will also suffer from the disorder.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/huntingtons-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20030685

http://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/Huntington-s-Disease-The-Discovery-of-the-85

Huntington’s Disease: An Autosomal Dominant Disorder

Cells

The human body is comprised of approximately 100 trillion cells, each less than 0.1 mm across

It is quite incredible to think about the amount of cell in our body and the specific uses of each cell. The human body is truly incredible, as each cell functions with the other in unison for humans to complete their daily or routine tasks. Cells also need the remedial tasks humans encounter everyday from eating to sleeping to even breathing. For example when someone eats, cells in particular take that food and convert it to energy for that person to run, jump, and exercise in general. Cells are also in the news as stem cell research has been deemed as controversial in the scientific community. Overall the human body is incredible and that is due to the countless cells in ones body allowing us humans to live.

Cells

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

Drug Testing Today

“Syca’s main production was a system, known as Emitt, used to detect the presence of drugs— both therapeutic and abused–in the blood.”-Weinberg (p.16)

This quote I lifted off from Point From the Grave because it gave me great interest to know the science behind drug tests. Upon initial research I found that there are many ways science is used for drug testing. These tests range from examining the blood, urine, hair, breath, and even saliva. The one I specifically focused on understanding was blood testing. Because this type of drug testing was mentioned in the Samantha Weinberg’s novel. What I found were some really cool scientific facts about how the blood gets examined for drugs. Of these facts I found that blood testing is used to detect if an individual is currently under the influence of an elicit drug. Meaning that the active forms of the drugs and not the by products are detected. It is known to be a very time consuming, and expensive process to perform. Blood testing also requires a trained professional to perform the procedure due to nature of the test. Because of this blood testings are not the first choice for many law enforcement offices when testing drug use. What law enforcement do instead of blood testing are urine tests. The reason why they do this is because urine testing is easy, efficient, and inexpensive.

 

http://www.drugdetection.net/drug.htm

Drug Testing Today

It is just Business

In a highly geared industry, one expensive mistake is enough to make you drown

This quote struck me for several reasons, however one remained the most important out of all of them. The field of science and biotech in particular is a business like any other. Yes the purpose is to save lives and find solutions for humanity. Yet, in the end it is a business like anything else therefore making a profit is vital in order to stay afloat. It made me wonder has the government here made any efforts to make life easier for biotech companies to perform without the cloud of money over their heads. In order for progress to be made in this industry there needs to be incentives for companies to perform without the pressure of making a profit.

It is just Business

DNA

We test our fetuses for susceptibility to genetic disorders, our corpses for cause of death; rare animals are screened for DNA compatibility before breeding, sheep cloned, organs transplanted, babies born to two mothers. If we wanted to, we could predict our life expectancy before birth, our intellectual capacity, hair color, even out ability to run a marathon.” (Weinberg xi)

With all the incredible inventions biotech has brought to this world only one remains the most influential; DNA. Most people would come up with countless innovations that they view are exponentially more important than DNA, however that is not the case. DNA is used almost in everything from murder trials to breeding, there is no other innovation that rivals DNA. It is quite incredible the many uses DNA provides and how it has impacted our lives as humans.

DNA

Misidentification

1_123125_123087_2279918_2290335_110412_juris_lineup_tn.jpg.CROP.original-original

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

The Problems with Eyewitness Testimony

“Do you render an opinion of the assailant’s race?” “Yes or no?” “I said that I can’t positively identify the person.” -Weinberg (9)

The inability to positively identify an attacker could be due to stress Helena was going through. Negative bias against people of certain races (white, brown, black) can also contribute towards memory. This vulnerability can brings the chance for witnesses to add that elaborations stemming on their bias. A study made to research this vulnerability in human memory was conducted by Barbara Tversky and Elizabeth Marsh. They discovered participants would make error in retelling experiences. The experiences were categorized as socially cool, neutral and annoying. Participants made minimal errors in retelling the stories that were delivered from a neutral standpoint. But from the socially cool and annoying experiences, participants made many more errors and added characteristics attributed to the bias in their retelling.

https://www.tc.columbia.edu/faculty/bt2158/faculty-profile/files/sh_Biasedretellingsofeventsyieldbiasedmemories.pdf

 

The Problems with Eyewitness Testimony

Parallels in Narrative

I thought it was interesting that both the prologue and the first chapter begin in a courtroom, the first appearing to be a trial regarding Helena’s murder, and the latter being the trial for her assault. Although this is a true story, Weinberg can still choose how she wants to organize it, and I like her choice to open with a piece of the story that I’m sure comes at the very end to draw her readers in before flashing back to the very beginning. It makes me wonder if the rest of the case will be presented in strict chronological order, or if there’ll be more jumps to and from the present.

Parallels in Narrative

The Fourth Quadrant

Fourth-quadrant innovation has been assisted by another crucial development: increased flow of information

We live in an incredible day and age with the most advanced technology man kind has ever seen. Sometimes its hard to notice the incredible amount of information we have at our finger tips. The ability to search something up like quantum mechanics and have a basic understanding of it instantly from a google search is phenomenal. However, one must understand the downfall of all this information. The amount of information we have could also act as a bad thing as we do not thoroughly learn about a subject. Instead we get a basic summary about it and carry on with our lives. Therefore us humans must tread the line of this information surplus we have and use it properly and efficiently.

The Fourth Quadrant

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.

 

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Stepping Back

Phytoplankton: A Crucial Organism

Platform building is, by definition, a kind of exercise in emergent behavior”-Johnson (pp.182)

 

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This is a scanning electron picture of a phytoplankton. These microorgansims account for half of all photosynthetic activity on Earth. Just as the beavers described by Johnson, these organisms provide the base foundation for many other aquatic species to exist. The Nation Centers for Coastal Ocean Science explains that, “In a balanced ecosystem, phytoplankton provide food for a wide range of sea creature including whales, shrimp, snails, and jellyfish”.  Without these crucial microorganisms providing nutrition and oxygen our aquatic ecosystem would not look as it is today.

Phytoplankton: A Crucial Organism

Platforms

The creative stack is deeper than genres, though. Genres are themselves built on top of more stable conventions and technologies.

A couple years ago I was shuffling through the radio and came across an interesting brand of music called edm. I was instantly drawn and become obsessed with the genre of music. My mom later told me that edm sounds very similar to a genre of music she listened to at my age which was house. I did a little research and found edm grew and built upon the foundations house music created in the 80s. It was very interesting to see how music grows in this day and age and see the original genre it was built upon. This platform theory is very evident in the music world today as all types of music have grown and expanded like the rise of technology.

Platforms

Exaption

If mutation and error and serendipity unlock new doors in the biosphere’s adjacent possible, exaptations help us explore the new possibilities that lurk behind those doors.

This quote first brings to mind the invention and innovation of the internet. Initially the internet had the purpose of providing basic information for the average person, however gradually the internet became larger and larger. Now the internet provides information, is a source of social media and video can stream in HD with the evolution of youtube which is another example of exaptions. The basic idea of the internet evolved and has become an essential part of society.

Exaption

Ideas

“Genius, then, lay not in conceiving an entirely new technology from scratch, but instead from borrowing a mature technology from an entirely different field, and putting it to work to solve an unrelated problem” -Johnson (153)

I feel as if every idea is sprouted from some sort of related concept. When thinking on a deeper level, its hard to imagine an idea that doesn’t somehow compare to a previous one. What then, would define an organic idea? Is every idea not part of a creative pyramid that expands as ideas are created? How then, can we argue against the idea that every “new” concept isn’t directly sprouted from another? I don’t think we can.

Ideas

Platforms

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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

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

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“Many of history’s great innovators managed to build a cross disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines”

This is Nikola Tesla. He was an Serbian American scientist focused on the development of new technology for society. He was heavily involved in many different fields of science including physics, electrical and mechanical engineering. His interest in these different fields along with his futuristic ideas allowed for the creation of inventions that were beyond his time. By the late 1800’s Tesla went to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity. He also speculated the possibility of wireless communication, a technology used so often today. These hobbies and interests in these different fields proves as an example of how scientists can come up with great ideas by integrating concepts together.

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

Penicillin: An Accidental Discovery

Penicillin is an antibiotic drug discovered by accident. It was founded by Sir Alexander Fleming who at the time was experimenting with the influenza virus in a lab. The scientist took a break from experimenting and  weeks later found mold on a plate. When the scientist found the mold, he investigated it and noticed the mold prevented growth of staphylococci. After this discovery, Fleming tested the mold and found out it can work against bacteria. Today, the penicillin drug  treats many life threatening illnesses such as meningitis and pneumonia.

This is one of many serendipitous moments in science that has happened  influencing society for the better. These accidental happenings in science are amazing and are so interesting to read out. I wonder what will be discovered next by accident.

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Picture Credits: http://www.topbritishinnovations.org/~/media/Voting/Images/Penicillin_detail_2.jpg

Here is a video featuring Science and Serendipity:

Video

Penicillin: An Accidental Discovery

Acceleration of technology

“We are constantly making equivalent conceptual leaps from biology to culture without blinking” (Johnson, 18

We are always making new innovations and inventions. Today we are connected in a web of the internet and our communities. What stuck out to me in this reading was the Idea of the 10/10 rule. This is the term that when something is released to the general public, it usually takes about a decade for it to be generally accepted. I thought this was interesting. I remember as a kid growing up and DVD’s were just starting to come out, but it wasnt until my later years that DVD completely took over the movie streaming business. But can some things come out too soon for it’s time? is there anything that just is to futuristic for us and it is eventually cast aside? reall makes you wonder

 

Acceleration of technology

The Touchy Issue of Ethics

“Typical Concerns can be divided into a number of areas, ranging from biotechnology’s effects on the environment and human health to impacts on social and economic conditions and religious and moral values”(Grace, 192)

Advances in science have always brought up the question of ethics and wether it is right for something to be done when a new science finding. A new concept coming around is genetic testing, where you can go to your doctor and see if you have any genetic diseases that have been passed onto you or what you might carry. Should people be ble to have this info? what if it is a disease that cannot be treated, is it right for the person to know? I believe that it is, and i think it could save lives if it did.

 

The Touchy Issue of Ethics

A Closer Examination of Errors

“De Forest had stumbled across a classic slow hunch… In 1903, he began a series of failed experiments with placing two electrodes in gas-filled glass bulbs. He continued tinkering with the model…”-Johnson p132-133″

 

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Reading Johnson’s Error’s reminded of other experiments and inventions performed by scientists. One of these scientists that created a breakthrough invention was Thomas Edison. Edison invented the light bulb based on idea he had concerning electricity, currents, etc. Although Edison created the light based on science concerning electricity, he did not have an immediate answer to his question. Edison required long periods of experimental testing on a trial and error basis. With time Edison finally reached a solution to a problem he posed onto himself. When asked about his failed experiments concerning the invention of the light bulb, Edison states that he did not encounter failure but found critical data for his discovery. This statement I believe is something that the entire science community abides by because although an experiment did not follow through as planned the data is critical for knowing what went wrong. By keeping these data point in lab notebooks, databases, etc., scientists can formulate a new experiment to try answer their question in manner different than before.

A Closer Examination of Errors

Trial and Error

“Being wrong forces you to explore.” (137). This quote struck me when I initially read this chapter. The main reason for this is the view of society on failure. From getting an F on a paper, to failing to take the trash out, to buying the wrong medicine failure has haunted us all as humans. Society views failure as the worst possible outcome in almost all situations. However, in science failure is welcomed and actually encouraged. The basis of science and the goal of discovering new and efficient things in this world can be a very daunting and impossible task. For example, finding a common cure for cancer. If one scientist fails at finding a cure right off the bat should he or she just give up and let the next guy handle it. The answer is of course not and in fact failing at first is normal and beneficial. It allows one to look at the results and fix them for the next trial and test. In a world of perfection science is one of the few fields that allows for and appreciates failure.

Trial and Error

The power of dreams

In the beginning of the chapter there is an interesting quote the author introduces, “in a sense, dreams are the mind’s primordial soup: the medium that facilitates the serendipitous collisions of creative insight. And hunches are like those early carbon atoms, seeking out new kinds of connections to help them build new chains and rings of innovation.” (102).  This quote made me wonder the power dreams have on people and ideas. When I first watched the movie Inception I first came to understand the realm of dreams. As a whole dreams affect how are day goes and sometimes experiences and interactions we have with people everyday. I for one like to study before I go the bed before a big test, so in a way the information stays with me the whole night.

The power of dreams

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?

Danger of Patents

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“patents, digital rights management, intellectual property, trade secrets, proprietary technology… share a founding assumption: that in the long run, innovation will increase if you put restrictions on the spread of new ideas, because those restrictions will allow the creators to collect large financial rewards from their inventions”-Johnson p123-124″

This is Martin Shkreli. He was the CEO of a biotech company called Turing Pharmaceuticals. He is notoriously known from approving the raise price of very important drugs up to 4,000%  from the original price. This overnight spike in the these drugs to treat infectious disease caused many people to suffer because they could not afford their medication. Some patients that could only be treated by Turing Pharmaceuticals drug would have no choice but to pay the obscenely high prices. This reminded me of when Johnson begins to talk about exclusive rights such as drug patents.Turing Pharmaceuticals raising the prices of lifesaving drugs overnight shows how easily these patents can hurt society more than benefit society. It shed light on how our government has to regulate patent laws in order to make any product affordable to the common man as well as the company.

Danger of Patents

Hunches

Science is a very unique subject, due to the ability of providing answers to very difficult and complicated questions. So it was very interesting in reading this chapter when the author brought up what makes a good idea, “most great ideas first take shape in a partial, incomplete form.” Therefore one can conclude that answers that come from science initially are born with a hunch. Sir Isaac Newton had a hunch about why an apple falls from a tree and hits one in the head which later become known as the law of gravity. Hunches are basically like pre-born hypotheses, however the difference is taking that one step further and actually testing it. Persistence and the ability to care allows for hunches to become realities in the world of science.

Hunches

Spillover

Toward the middle of this chapter the author introduced the use of spillover in the form of spreading ideas. It means to “capture the essential liquidity of information in dense settlements.” The author also goes on to say “when you share a common civic culture with thousands of other people, good ideas have a tendency to flow from mind to mind, even when their creators try to keep them secret.” This made me wonder how this could illustrate some of the problems in the scientific community. Groupthink over the years has hindered progress in science in general as many scientists think the same way. The prime example is the power the FDA has in this country and its ability to damage small competitors. However, science is all about the spreading of new ideas and as history has shown in the past the brilliant minds of the world rise to the top and provide ground breaking results and findings.

Spillover

9/11 Hunches

Being from the New York/New Jersey area, 9/11 can be a touchy subject.  A fellow student that went to my high school lost his father from the attack, as well as many other people in my area that lost a loved ones.  These hunches that were brought up in chapter 3 definitely make me question whether or not things could have went differently, but at the same time I realize the time needed for a slow hunch to turn into something better.  Darwin’s hunches took a while to turn into concrete theories and ideas.  Its hard to not question if, with the proper time, Ken Williams hunches could of had put security on more of an alert all the way back in 2001.

9/11 Hunches

The slow hunch

The whole section about hunches is very interesting. How it applies to the idea of a web, and adjacent possible. For a hunch to become reality, it needs a web of many ideas thinking or coming up with the same idea. It is very interesting to look into the past and records of people comin up with similar ideas and what could have happend if they came together, such as the phoenix  project and the flight school maybe stopping 9/11. in a similar time for it to come out to light and be legitimized. and as johnson puts it, ” Hunches that don’t connect are too to stay hunches.”(76)

The slow hunch

Another Carbon?

“Without the generative links of carbon, the earth would have likely remained a lifeless soup of elements, a planet of dead chemistry,” (page 49).  I thought it was interesting to ponder if if this was the actual case, or if earth could have still have began sustaining from another element.  Could this have been possible? Or would earth still be a lifeless soup of elements without carbon.

Another Carbon?

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

Hunches

You can learn a great deal about the history of innovation by examining great ideas that changed the world. Indeed, most intellectual histories are structured in exactly this fashion, a narrative of breakthroughs and insights and eureka moments that had a transformative impact on human society. (johnson 72)

Great ideas that change the world, they are very rare things. What makes these ideas so much more effective then others? Possibly great ideas are just regular ideas that are pursued for a long time, tirelessly, until eventually they are world changing. These big ideas seem to develop, evolve from just a problem, to a solution. They change from perhaps what they thought was the original idea to something completely different. Those eureka moments are what everyone strives for, but very few actually experience.

Hunches

Ideas

 A new idea is a network of cells exploring the adjacent possible of connections that they can make in your mind. This is true whether the idea in question is a new way to solve a complex physics problem, or a closing line for a novel, or a feature for a software application. (johnson 45)

The thought that an idea is like a network it what strike me most about this passage. This network that can evolve, change, and develop into something completely different than the original idea. This completely inclusive theory about ideas is interesting because it makes an idea changeable, it can adapt to changing circumstances and new information. This passage makes an idea something that is alive, something that can be nurtured and create something new.

 

Ideas

Good ideas

At the end of Chapter 1, Johnson poses the question, “What kind of environment creates good ideas?”  I think that the best environment for good ideas is a “needy” one.  The best ideas and innovations come from need.  If you cannot complete a task to your satisfaction using the tools available to you then you are going to be more inclined to find another solution to your problem.  Therefore, if you have a need for a new invention then you will be more urgent in trying to actually invent it.

Good ideas

Make it Cheaper

In the year that followed the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Indonesian city of Meulaboh received eight incubators… by late 2008, when MIT professor named Timothy Prestero visited the hospital, all eight were out of order. (27)

In todays society the amount of advanced technology that is available is amazing. But there is one common problem across the board, no matter if it is consumer based or a life saving device, it is all too expensive. It also all will break far too often. Even today, cell phones can barely make it the two year contract you must sign to buy it. This issue continues on into biotechnology and healthcare. If those incubators were more reliable then more babies could have been saved. Because they were broken they could not be useful to the people of Meulaboh. Developing a way to make technology less disposable is necessary. Making something fixable is the next step in technological development.

Make it Cheaper

The Adjacent Possible

“The history of life and human culture, then, can be told as the story of a gradual but relentless probing of the adjacent possible, each new innovation opening up new paths to explore.” This quote struck me for a variety of reasons, but one in particular. With the rapid increase in technology and social media there has been a recent concern over safety. Technology has greatly benefited society in almost every aspect, but over the past couple the years it has also caused problems. One example can various privacy issues facing celebrities and even the US government. Overall the adjacent possible theory has been very beneficial to the science field, yet some question whether or not one’s safety or even country is in constant jeopardy.

The Adjacent Possible

YouTube’s 1/1 Rule

The 10/10 rule stuck out to me for the fact of how long it took for these technological advances to become the new norm.  HDTV didn’t rise to mainstream popularity overnight, but YouTube was close to doing so.  One of my questions for this section dealt with if our generation (Generation Y) had large hand in making YouTube successful at such a faster rate.  I believe that our large generation, who is always seemingly on the next social media fad, definitely contributed heavily to YouTube’s success. Even though HDTV seemed to focus on a larger and broader target audience, it still didn’t have the generational focus that Youtube had to give them this “1/1 Rule”.

YouTube’s 1/1 Rule