Thursday, February 27, 2014

All Deextinct Creatures Great And Small

The New York Times Magazine is running a major article on deextinction this week.  Entitled "The Mammoth Cometh," the February 27, 2014, article is subtitled
Bringing extinct animals back to life is really happening — and it’s going to be very, very cool. Unless it ends up being very, very bad.
Lexvivo has previously discussed deextinction here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Watch this space for much more on deextinction.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Genes And Early Americans

An article by Morten Rasmussen et al., published in the February 13, 2014, issue of the journal Nature  suggests that all Native Americans are descended from the same small group of ancestors.  Entitled The genome of a Late Pleistocene human from a Clovis burial site in western Montana, the article describes the results of sequencing DNA from an infant boy ("Anzick-1") who was buried in Wyoming more than10,000 years ago.  As the article explains,
The Anzick-1 data...serves to unify the genetic and archaeological records of early North America, it is consistent with a human occupation of the Americas a few thousand years before Clovis, and demonstrates that contemporary Native Americans are descendants of the first people to settle successfully in the Americas. [Footnotes omitted.]
Because the remains of Anzick-1 were found on private land, the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act ("NAGPRA") was not triggered.  The NAGPRA requires that ancient human remains found on federal property be returned to whichever Native American tribe has the closest "cultural affiliation" with those remains.  Section 2(2) of NAGPRA defines "cultural affiliation" as
a relationship of shared group identity which can be reasonably traced historically or prehistorically between a present day Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and an identifiable earlier group.
A number of Native American tribes in Wyoming have expressed cultural affiliation with Anzick-1.  Having shed remarkable light on Native American origins, he should be reburied with respect and honor.

Friday, February 7, 2014

China: Patent Superpower

The World Intellectual Property Office ("WIPO") has heralded what may be a new age of Chinese patent predominance, noting, among many other things, that
The 2013 edition of the World Intellectual Property Indicators also shows that for the first time, China tops the ranking for both the source (filings by China) and the destination (filed in China) for the four types of IP (patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs). Of the top five IP offices worldwide, the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China (SIPO) was alone in recording double-digit growth for each of the four types of IP. Continued rapid filing growth in China is the main driver of global IP growth.

As China increases its emphasis on patent filings, both at home and abroad, its patent culture is sure to evolve towards stronger enforcement of patent rights.  Although this has long been viewed by the West as "a consummation/ Devoutly to be wish'd," the arrival of a patent-assertive China may become a mixed blessing for countries that previously dominated the patent league tables.  For, their companies may increasinging be named as defendants in patent infringement suits filed by Chinese patent owners.  "[A]y, there's the rub."

Islands Off The Grid

The Virgin Islands, both United States and British, are among the most beautiful places on earth.  This has not gone unnoticed by the wealthy.  Following in the sandy footsteps of Cornings and Rockefellers, modern moguls have acquired their own personal paradises there.

British magnate Richard Branson owns gorgeous Necker Island.  On February 5, 2014, he announced his intention to move Necker Island towards self-sufficiency by developing its own alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, which are perennially abundant in the Virgin Islands.  Although likely to be expensive, Branson's efforts have the potential to offer proof of green energy concept to other small islands throughout the world.  This could have the additional salutary benefit of reducing the air and water pollution from fossil fuel power generation that clashes with the natural beauty, and harms the abundant biodiversity, of islands in the stream.