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Tech

Paying for patent preference, and testing HIV vaccine on twins

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Would you pay $4,000 for this patent? Would Thomas Edison?

Angus Loten at the Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. Patent Office is planning to offer a "fast track" patent process - for a price.  Up until now getting your idea cleared has cost $1,090.  But the new initiative would grant inventors who are willing to cough up $4,000 special priority:

The increased costs are meant to encourage filers to prioritize the innovations they need to get to market first by choosing the ones worth the extra fee, a patent-office spokesman says. In announcing the program, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said it was designed to "dramatically lower the time" it takes for entrepreneurs seeking capital or accelerated market penetration to secure a patent, as opposed to those at an earlier stage of development who can afford to wait.

Senator Schumer
Senator Schumer wants the FAA to switch from radar to GPS to help flights move on and off runways more quickly, reports the Associated Press:

“Unfortunately, much of transportation infrastructure is outdated and inadequate,” Schumer said. The Democrat said Wednesday that his bill, headed for votes in the Senate and House, allows for a change that’s expected to reduce flight delays by 21 percent. The bill would require all aircraft to be equipped with the global positioning satellite technology and speed the process of replacing radar at airports. Schumer says Wednesday the technology would be paid for through an existing federal tax on airfare tickets, without an increase.

Speaking of Senator Schumer (and the fiber optic network that he advocated for), Rochester Gas and Electric is the newest customer for Ontario County's fiber ring.  The Democrat and Chronicle's Steve Orr reports:

The utility will connect 10 of its facilities in the county to the fiber-optic ring that was constructed by a nonprofit venture to bring high-speed data service to the mostly rural county. The 200-mile network of high-capacity fiber-optic cable was completed in December at a cost of $5.5 million, about $2 million less than anticipated. It was built by Axcess Ontario, a public-benefit corporation formed by Ontario County.

Robot career counselors
Students in Rochester are using robots to investigate careers in science, reports Tiffany Lankes at the Democrat and Chronicle:
 

"So many of us have heard this idea about getting kids interested in careers in math or careers in engineering," said Paul Daniels, who works with a group of students from Wilson Magnet High School Commencement Academy. "But many of our inner-city kids have never had an opportunity to see what that means." The students meet with mentors from area companies, including Xerox Corp. and Bausch + Lomb, several times a week to get professional advice on their projects.

Marcellus shale farming
FarmAndDairy.com has a Q&A with Tom Murphy, the head of Penn State's Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, about the concerns that farmers have when it comes to drilling for natural gas.
 

HIV vaccine
The University of Rochester Medical Center is looking for twins, to test genetic theories about the HIV vaccine being developed there.  Patti Singer at the Democrat and Chronicle reports that enrollment has been slow:

Researchers have an idea that genetic factors influence how an individual's immune system responds to a vaccine. The mechanism is quite complex, Keefer said. But it's based on the observations that some people seem less able to fight off infections, which may be related to genetic makeup. That's not to say that certain people are more or less susceptible to HIV, but they may have a proclivity for developing infections in general. Because identical twins have the same genetic makeup, researchers expect to see the same immune response. They don't expect that from fraternal twins. "There is a lot of general feeling in the scientific community that this makes sense," Keefer said.

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