Two weeks to finish the year, and many rankings are starting to appear. I will try not to saturate the remaining recaps, but some are quite cool and I want to share them. Also, if time allows, I will try to write a bit about the videogames/books/shows/movies that I particularly enjoyed this year. Let’s get to it:
Nature’s best images of the year + 10 people who helped shape science in 2021
Nothing new here about the pics, as I have been sharing them every month. However, it is always to cool to take a look at the recap of the year, just in case you missed some interesting story. I am still particularly impressed by the pictures from La Palma, though there are some other impressive articles on the list.
On the other hand, Nature also wrote a cool piece about ten people who delved into relevant aspects of science. While I am not a big fan of personalising studies or causes (nothing is really researched or solved by a single person), I think it is quite cool to give voice to the people that dedicate their work to relevant topics. Of course, this year all the rankings are going to be filled with Covid related stuff, and this is no exception. However, there are still several mentions to themes that I have covered along these posts. Climate change research, the morals of AI, and aerospace are just some of the stories you can dive into. A cool read for the holidays!
The best science images of 2021, on Nature
Nature’s 10, on Nature
Sci-Hub’s legal battle on India, and why it is important
This week we also saw how a trial in India could reshape the way we publish and read scientific papers. The main point of the news is that India might allow Sci-Hub to operate in the country, based on the fact that a free access to scientific information is more relevant for the nation that copyright claims from giant publishers.
I have written about Sci-Hub many times in the blog, and also about how the whole publishing sector feels like a bad joke to me. For a decade now, Sci-Hub has been fighting against the system by allowing researchers all over to globe to jump above the paywall system that many publishers have imposed. While doing so, they have created a service which is exceptionally efficient: you just copy the link of the paper or its digital identifier and the content “magically” appears before your eyes. It literally takes less than 20 seconds to do the whole process, while conventional systems require multiple logins, institutional checks, and going through obsolete webpages that have not been updated since the 90’s (another day we can talk about some paper submission systems, which usually make you lose a full day just to send a pdf with your work for reviewing). And of course, that only works if your institution payed millions to the publishers in the first place. Otherwise you can buy a full article for about +40$, or the journal’s full volume for +100$.
There is actually a big resemblance with how music was consumed just a couple decades ago. People were doing music, people were buying music, but most of the money was going on the wrong hands (i.e. not to the artists). With scientific research, everyone is paying the scientists to do research (mainly with their taxes), the scientists are writing, proofreading (for free), reviewing (for free), editing (for free), and paying for publishing and accessing the papers, while publishers get a massive cut for basically maintaining an online database (to no surprise, academic publishing is one the business with the biggest profits in the world).
I don’t think that Sci-Hub’s model is the perfect solution, and many things have to change in science in order to solve the publishing problems (impact factors, institutions favouring number over quality of publications, etc.). However, I am all in on something that disturbs the status quo. As Napster was the first step to a more fair music ecosystem, Sci-Hub might be the most important movement we have seen in how science is accessed in a very long time (maybe ever?). It is time that supposedly clever people get out of such a dumbass system, once and for all.
The Matrix Awakens
It is quite challenging to describe with words the Matrix demo that people from the Unreal team made. I think it is even hard to grasp the tech jump even by watching it on video. I am really curious to see how movies will look like in the upcoming years. Will we still watch non-interactive films in a decade from now, or the genre will start to fuse with interactive experiences? Will games take over as young people today get to conform the majority of the mass market?
Anyway, really impressive details on the faces of both Neo and Trinity, amazing movement animations, and a city that just feels unrealistically real. The future is here.
There is also a cool interview on how was the making of the demo, with really good points on the future of tech by Moss and Reeves. Kudos to Keanu for the comments on NFTs, crypto, and Facebook’s metaverse.
And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!
Featured image from Emilio Morenatti