Sunday, March 02, 2008

News of Note

A couple of stories that have captured our interest:

From the Wisconsin Technology news:
"In the first of several decisions expected in a patent dispute involving human embryonic stem cells, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation said today it has been notified that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has upheld the claims of one of the foundation's key stem cell patents.

The patent challengers, however, said they will continue their challenge of what they termed "three overreaching patents on human stem cells."

According to WARF, the licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the decision pertains to the patent for primate and human embryonic stem cells known as '913.'

Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF, called the decision of patent examiner Gary Kunz an affirmation. 'We're extremely pleased with this decision,' he said in a statement released by WARF. 'It affirms what WARF has believed all along, that Dr. Thomson's breakthrough discoveries are patentable inventions.' " Full story here.

From Science Daily:
New survey results show that only 29.5 percent in a sample of 1,015 adult Americans consider nanotech morally acceptable. In Europe, significantly higher percentages of people accepted the moral validity of the technology:
"In the United Kingdom, 54.1 percent found nanotechnology to be morally acceptable. In Germany, 62.7 percent had no moral qualms about nanotechnology, and in France 72.1 percent of survey respondents saw no problems with the technology.

'There seem to be distinct differences between the United States and countries that are key players in nanotech in Europe, in terms of attitudes toward nanotechnology,' says Scheufele.

Why the big difference?

The answer, Scheufele believes, is religion..." Read on here.

From the NY Times: Six Killers: America’s Leading Causes of Death: "They are the leading causes of illness and death in the United States today: heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, in that order. And they have a lot in common." Full article here. [Query: Would more Americans find nanotechnology more acceptable if they knew that it could cure these leading killers?]

From the Washington Post, a study suggesting that man's 'best friend' could be a robot? - a study by Saint Louis University that found the lovable pooch and the interactive dog robot called AIBO were about equally effective at relieving the loneliness of nursing home residents, and fostering attachments. Full story here. I agree with Sara Kiesler, professor of computer science and human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, who said "the results of the study are encouraging but not completely convincing."

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