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  • Science asks big challenging questions about the nature of the universe.

  • Answering these questions often requires collaboration across scientific disciplines and national

  • borders.

  • But what happens when countries are isolated, at war, or just don't get alongwhat

  • do scientists do then?

  • In some areas of science it's impossible to do research without collaborating with

  • another country.

  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (or UNESCO) reported

  • that in 2015 an average of 1 in 4 published scientific papers listed some form of collaboration

  • with foreign scientists, and that number continues to grow.

  • For instance, the high altitude, lack of atmosphere and dry conditions in certain parts of Chile

  • make it one of the best places on EARTH to view activity in outer space.

  • This is one reason that it is estimated by 2020, 70% of the global infrastructure for

  • astronomical observation will be located in Chile.

  • With the rest of the world's astronomers dependent on their facilities for sensitive

  • measurements good relations are critical if research in astronomy is to advance.

  • But consider what happens if countries have a challenging political relationship.

  • US relations with Cuba for instance have been famously strained since the 1960's.

  • While exchange of scientific information was never expressly forbidden, US embargos on

  • everything from travel to trade between the two countries has made it difficult for Cuban

  • scientists to access instrumentation and equipment that scientists outside the country take for

  • granted.

  • This is because modern reagents and scientific equipment are often manufactured in, or contain

  • parts, from the United States which exempts them from sale to Cuba.

  • Even with these challenges, Cuba is a superstar of science.

  • They were the first country to receive validation from the World Health Organization for eliminating

  • mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and their lung cancer vaccine was an early success for

  • cancer immunotherapy.

  • These innovations made formalized scientific collaboration between the US and Cuba politically

  • more attractive and in 2014 the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Cuban

  • Academy of Sciences signed a historic agreement toseek opportunities for sustained cooperation.”

  • In order for them to fulfill that promise, the two countries had to agree to work together

  • outside of the laboratory, and this newfound scientific relationship coincided with a general

  • easing restrictions between the US and Cuba, including a relaxation of travel restrictions

  • and a historic visit to Havana by President Obama himself.

  • But of course, 2016 feels like a long time ago, and the current US administration doesn't

  • have the same approach to collaboration.

  • So it remains to be seen if these agreements are allowed to continue.

  • Where the public may perceive hostility, scientific collaboration still continuesbecause scientists

  • find greater value in, well, science.

  • In other parts of the world, international collaborations like the Human Genome Project

  • and the particle accelerator SESAME in the Middle East (which includes unfriendly countries

  • like Iran, Pakistan, and Israel) are pushing humanity's knowledge of the universe forward

  • and creating havens of cooperation in a time of increasing nationalism.

  • When it comes to highly visible, internationalmoon shotprojects like CERN's Large

  • Hadron Collider or the International Space Station-- a project reliant on cooperation

  • between Russia, the United States and others -- the whole world is watching.

  • The sheer scale of investment puts these massive collaborations in a delicate diplomatic position

  • that can make them critical points of de-escalation and compromise in otherwise gridlocked negotiations.

  • They can also inspire us to acknowledge that we're all just bunch of humans stuck on

  • a rock racing around the sun at 67,000 mph (108K km/h).

  • And in the words of Louis Pasteur: “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs

  • to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.”

  • As another example, we're working on a deep space gateway with Russia, go here to learn

  • more and don't forget to subscribe for more science in your day!

  • Did you know that during the cold war, The US and USSR were working together for science?

  • When the Soviet Union's Cosmos 936 mission launched in 1977, seven U.S. biological experiments

  • were onboard.

Science asks big challenging questions about the nature of the universe.

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How Scientists Still Work Together, Even When Their Countries Don’t

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    Samuel posted on 2018/06/09
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