Selfish Gene

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Selfish Gene

Postby Brightonian » Mon May 28, 2012 4:22 am

Gene-centred evolutionary biology was popularised by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976). Yet here's Poul Anderson writing in 1967:
And yet, before all else, he had reason to live. It went beyond any blind wish to continue an identity; that was only something the DNA molecule had elaborated in order to make more DNA molecules.
- "Eutopia" in Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison.

Thanks to Wikipedia I now know that Dawkins was building on "the principal theory of George C. Williams's first book Adaptation and Natural Selection" published in 1966. So I guess Anderson was keeping up to date with the world of science when he wasn't reading Icelandic sagas ...
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Re: Selfish Gene

Postby admin » Mon May 28, 2012 7:24 am

It's not uncommon that the first person to come up with an idea doesn't get the credit. In mathematics, Taylor's theorem was not discovered by Taylor and Maclauren's Theorem was not discovered by Maclauren.
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Re: Selfish Gene

Postby slaven41 » Mon May 28, 2012 7:06 pm

Same thing in physics. Often if you see a concept with more than one name attached to it, it originally had just one and then somebody figures out that somebody else had the same idea earlier. "Goldstone boson" becomes "Nambu-Goldstone boson." "Ward identity" becomes "Ward-Takahashi identity," and so on.
"It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." --from This Island Earth
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Re: Selfish Gene

Postby temp » Wed May 30, 2012 7:09 am

in my line of work, you can file a patent that stemmed from a conversation in the hall.
You don't even need to implement anything, you just have to put your stamp on it so that you own the idea.
That's my idea, and if you want to use that idea, then you have to pay me :-)
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Re: Selfish Gene

Postby slaven41 » Wed May 30, 2012 4:01 pm

Application for U.S. Patent
A Method of Generating Patentable Ideas

1. Meet someone in the hall.
2. Have a conversation with them.
3. When a good idea comes up, apply for a patent.

There. Now if you want to patent something based on a conversation you had with someone in the hall, you have to pay me!
"It's only Neutron. We call him that because he's so positive." --from This Island Earth
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Re: Selfish Gene

Postby Brightonian » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:55 am

There's an XKCD strip where one of the stick-men is trying to retrospectively file a patent because he had the same idea that has made someone else rich and famous, but didn't tell anyone at the time. This is a sore point with me, as I had the idea of VR goggles in a dream when I was about 8 years old.
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