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11 min reading time
I’m writing you from Southern Australia. You may recall my friend, Technologist Greg Eaton http://bit.ly/Greg_Eaton, invited me to mentor startups at incubator http://medgroup.biz/innovyz for the week.
Yesterday Greg shared a May 29 Brisbane newspaper article entitled, “Jellyfish sting offers hope in cancer battle.”
It began, “Scientists have analysed deadly box jellyfish venom for the first time, paving the way for better antidotes and studies into whether its toxins can be used in the fight against cancer.”
But the article is wrong.
Greg is certain and he has the scar to prove it.
That’s because famed zoologist Robert Endean, Jacqueline Rifkin, and Greg were the first to dissect the box jellyfish – in 1971! (Greg’s scar was from pipetting venom. Let’s just say they used crude tools back then.)
If the newspaper knew what to search, they may have found the 1975 paper, “ISOLATION OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF NEMATOCYST FROM THE CUBOMEDUSAN CHIRONEX FLECKERI.”
If the scientists knew where to look, they could have built upon a solid scientific foundation – instead of recreating the wheel.
Which brings us to today’s topic: What’s a practical way to get all our pre-digital learning online and searchable?
Of course, the implications far exceed scientific discovery, but it’s a good place to start!
Will it take a charitable foundation to pay for it all?
Is there a way to approach the most likely life-science beneficiaries to chip in for the project: To make our history scannable and searchable so we can stand on the shoulders of giants?
The annual LIFE SCIENCE INNOVATION NORTHWEST (Seattle, June 30-July 1) attracts up to 1,000 guests at the Washington State Convention Center for a big picture overview of the Pacific Northwest industry potential and the issues affecting product innovation, capitalization and commercialization.
I’ll be there both days. Perhaps we’ll meet?
See http://medgroup.biz/Innovation-Northwest for details and to register.
Nice response to last week’s “Know any billionaires with cancer” at http://bit.ly/bllionaire
Make it a great week.
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
I enjoy going through old patents and luckily searchable sources are now available to the layman. Hopefully this data is protected from attacks or just bad fortune.
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
I did the pneumatics on the first microprocessor ventilator prototype that became eventually became the Bear Ventilator, originally from Bourns Life Systems Division and later Bear Medical.
An alcoholic VP overseer of the division caused the group to abandone the project after a very successful 6 month trial at Loma Linda Hospital. After disbanding the group, the alcoholic left & the new VP manager recognized the mistake and reformed an entire engineering group.
But the innovations I did in pneumatics and others did in logic were ignored and they started from scratch. The modular pneumatics manifold that I developed and the safety overpressure-underpressure reliefs were never implemented, probably because none of the new engineers wanted to figure out what we had done.
It is not just sophisticated things that are “lost”, but life saving safety features. Bear later had problems where once a ventilator alarm was silenced, it stayed off, which resulted in RTs/nurses fixing the issue and walking off without reactivating the alarm. People died because of that error.
Mid-eighties a group of scientist discovered that some coral produce very strong UV-protection factors. Marketing people in the only Australian generics pharmaceutical company developed the idea to commercialise the compounds for use in sun protection creams. Unfortunately nobody was ready to invest in proper synthesis and clinical test for regulatory purposes. During the same period a number of other exciting new technologies were developed with public money around Australia e.g. Lysine, Carotene, pro-vitamin?? Unfortunately the Australian Government as many other governments did not have the commitment and tenacity to develop the research results into exportable products. Life science development take 10 to 20 years – governments and most investors can’t cope with such time horizons. Investors were plenty but the money was invested into the primary and building sector, not into establishing new industries. Some overseas life science investors transferred the cheaply acquired Australian knowledge to USA and Europe. Pilferage was another problem (Just ask yourself where the Tea Tree oil plants now growing in Florida came from originally?
Beth Ann Fiedler, PhD
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
There are scientists who have proposed putting whole books in the DNA of plants so that information will grow “forever.” That doesn’t guarantee it will happen to grow ‘forever’ or that humans will automatically remain ‘modern’ and able to read DNA after a cataclysm.
I think we will deal with a patchwork of knowledge storage as my best guess. Multiple types of data storage in multiple locations is what the IT techies recommend if you expect to get your data back.
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
Redundancy is definitely good, but paper redundancy has been available since the Guttenberg first started rolling. One nice thing about paper, you don’t need to have a specific operating system or motherboard or version of Adobe to read it. The other nice thing is that, fire aside, a book or journal is overall not nearly as fragile as a piece of electronic equipment. Nor is there a worldwide paperweb that can collapse, rending paper inaccessible, or be hacked to wipe pages of books clean of their content.
I’m by no means a computer expert, but nothing I know about them makes me feel warm and secure about digital as the safeguard of our historical human knowledge.
THe second is that no one wants to touch paper. Libraries don’t store it. But major scientific publishers have already dealt with this. If you go to the ACS website you can find the pdf for every Journal article published by the society. I just acessed articles from Volume 1 #2 of the Journal of the American Chemical Society published in 1879!
It really comes down to younger scietists and engineers not being taught how to search the literature, what to look for, where to look for it or what keywords to use. So Google it; nothing there? It doesn’t exist.
Carole Ann Goldsmith
The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) has published guidelines for digitizing collections and holdings in the public domain, particularly those held by libraries and archives. It is anticipated that the guidelines will eventually be published by UNESCO.
Copyright is indeed a bar for including many scientific, technical, and medical publications in these projects. It’s not clear how much practical impact the 1998 Act had on useful access to these documents, given that copyright was already in place for the life of the author plus 50 or 75 years. In addition, many journals have digitized their older issues and made them available online. For example, the 1975 paper can be found by searching PubMed or Google Scholar for several of the keywords, and is available for purchase from Toxicon:
My guess is it was the lack of knowing keywords like Chironex fleckeri that prevented the newspaper from finding it.
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