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Posts tagged with "Who Discovers and Why"

  • Academia (vs. Industry)

    Don’t Wait For the Public Sector

    If you haven’t seen this speech by Phil Baran, given at his induction into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, it’s worth a look. His main theme is what organic chemists can learn from the business model of SpaceX, and he starts out by talking about how grant money for synthetic organic chemistry has… Read More
  • Who Discovers and Why

    The Story Behind the Story Behind the Story

    I enjoyed this article at FiveThirtyEight, because I’ve had similar thoughts over the years myself. There are layers of knowledge about many topics, and it can be hard to be sure what layer you’ve made it do, and whether there’s another one underneath you yet. The first example in the piece is the spinach-has-a-lot-of-iron idea… Read More
  • Book Recommendations

    Realizing That There Was Such a Thing as Science

    I’ve been enjoying this book, The Invention of Science by David Wootton, which was just published in the US back in December. It’s a history of the beginnings of the scientific revolution back in the 1500s and 1600s, and it takes a lot of issues with how that history has been told by some other authors. Read More
  • Business and Markets

    An Old Problem at Verily

    Stat has a very interesting report on what’s going on at one of Google’s biomedical companies, Verily Life Sciences. They get right down to it in the opening: Google’s brash attempt to revolutionize medicine as it did the Internet is facing turbulence, and many leaders who launched its life sciences startup have quit, STAT has found. Read More
  • Business and Markets

    The Management Hat

    On this anniversary, I wanted to point back to an older post here: Roger Boisjoly and the Management Hat. He tried, repeatedly, to keep the Challenger disaster from happening, but upper management decided that there were more important things to worry about: goals, timelines. Never forget. Read More
  • Academia (vs. Industry)

    Technology and Funding: Myths and Alternate Worlds

    Science writer Matt Ridley had an interesting (but somewhat odd) column over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal. Titled “The Myth of Basic Science”, it maintains that “technological innovation has a momentum of its own”, and that basic research doesn’t really drive it. I think that my brain must be about ninety deg… Read More
  • Biological News

    Reductionism Pays My Mortgage

    Reductionism has been a powerful tool for a long time now, and it’s not going away any time soon. There, that should be enough of a 50,000-foot opening! The idea that you can understand a system by taking it apart and looking at the pieces doesn’t always work out, but it still seems to be… Read More
  • Business and Markets

    Chris Viehbacher’s Two Billion Dollars

    Chris Viehbacher, ex-Sanofi, has reappeared at a $2 billion dollar biotech fund. Viehbacher is clear, though, that Gurnet will be founding companies as well as looking outside the red-hot fields like oncology. To find value these days, you have to look outside of the trendiest fields, he says. And you’re also not going to find… Read More
  • Biological News

    Artificial Intelligence For Biology?

    A new paper in PLoS Computational Biology is getting a lot of attention (which event, while not trying to be snarky about it, is not something that happens every day). Here’s the press release, which I can guarantee that most of the articles written about this work will be based on. That’s because the paper… Read More
  • Drug Development

    The Sunk Cost Fallacy

    Mentioning target validation yesterday led me to think about an even larger problem: the sunk cost fallacy. That’s a general human tendency, but (like several other human tendencies) it can lead to some wasted scientific effort. A “sunk cost”, in economic terms, is an unrecoverable one – it’s gone, it’s spent, an… Read More