RE: virus: Discoveries and Inventions

Vicki Rosenzweig (
Mon, 03 Feb 97 11:25:00 PST

The basic distinction would be between things that someone
creates and things that were already there waiting to be noticed.
US patent law is written on the assumption that physical laws
are already there: if you discovered a fifth physical force, you
couldn't patent it, though you could patent devices that used or
measured it. Entomologists consider themselves to be discovering
new species; the insects were already there before any human
noticed them.

The distinction gets fuzzy when you wander beyond the purely
physical, or when you ask whose observations count. Tombaugh
discovered Pluto, but did anyone discover Uranus? (It had been seen
many times, but not noticed as a planet, before Herschel studied it
and figured out what it was.)

From: owner-virus
To: virus
Subject: virus: Discoveries and Inventions
Date: Saturday, February 01, 1997 4:23PM

This subject came up in the context of Ayn Rand.

What is the difference between an invention and a discovery? I'm


Reed Konsler