Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NCIS "Cracked" episode does biofuels, patents

The NCIS episode titled "Cracked" on October 26, 2010 gave a healthy dose of US Navy - sponsored research on biofuels, and two distinct references to patents.

Of the former, bacteria (nominally E. Coli) would consume CO2 and return biofuel.

Of the latter, patents were mentioned twice

--> he who gets the patent first, gets rich

--> in the context of a patent (application) on making biofuel (here, ethanol), a patent turn-down because of the presence of a toxic co-product, formaldehyde. In the real-world, patent applications are not turned down because of toxic co-products.

In the plotline, the brilliant female engineer (character "Clea Thorson " ) was fired by one biotech company, then hired by a competitor (so much for non-compete agreements). She was poisoned by a jealous co-worker at the first company.
{It was not totally clear "why" Clea was fired by the first company; not a "team player?"]

A different blog described the the key plot discovery: Thorson had discovered a way to change bacteria into fuel. McGee finds a connection to Rupert Kritzer--Mr. K.--and Gibbs brings him into interrogation. He didn't want the project they were working on to get back to Stillwell, and Gibbs suggests that as motive, but Kritzer denies murdering anyone.

Actually, the bacteria converted CO2 into fuel. [although E. Coli would not be using photosynthesis.] And Kritzer indeed did not want Thorson's work for him to get back to Stillwell.


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