Posts filed under ‘Geeky stuff’
I have just stumbled upon a book called “Against Intellectual Monopoly” by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, two economists from Washington University in St. Louis. As the title implies they argue in it against the patent system as a whole because it supposedly stifles innovation and brings very little in return. They support their case with numerous examples in a number of areas, some of which I find more, some less convincing. Interestingly, they dedicated a whole chapter to the pharmaceutical industry. They acknowledged the pharmaceutical industry as one of the most costly, and therefore likely to benefit from patent protection, so they reasoned that if they could refute the case for patents there, they could do it anywhere.
Nobody in their right mind will deny that there is a lot of things that are wrong with Big Pharma. Shameless lobbying, physician bribing, exorbitant drug prices all give pharmaceutical industry giants a bad rap. Are patents to blame? Boldrin and Levine argue that they play a big part.
Anyone knows who John Wilbanks is? Well, I just found out. Recently a post on slashdot caught my attention – it was both science-y and geeky – a combo I simply couldn’t resist. It linked to an interview with the said John Wilbanks, where he speaks very wisely indeed about some of the central issues of modern science: scientific communication, open access publishing, data accessibility and storage, and more. John is VP of Science at Creative Commons (article on Wikipedia) an organization whose sole purpose is to make it easier for people to share their creative work if they so desire (check out this movie on YouTube for a no-brainer explanation of how it works, and this website for another movie on how it relates to science). As the interview is rather lengthy, I decided to summarize its main themes in this post, and, well, I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t take the liberty to venture a few opinions of my own.
I am such a geek, but I cannot help but get excited about news such as these. Apparently some astro-dorks in Germany figured they would use a gas cloud in space as a kind of mirror to reflect the light coming from a supernova first observed by a 16th century astronomer Tycho Brahe. No, I am not making this up – those who saw the movie Deja Vu will have a serious deja vu – these guys from the Max Planck Institute actually saw something that somebody else saw and described over 400 years ago. Now that’s what I call a fairy tale: Snow White meets Sleeping Beauty 🙂