The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire world to its knees over the last two years, claiming more than 6 million lives. It also exposed a massive gap in the general understanding of biology even amongst highly educated individuals. Despite the threat, there was a large reluctance among the general public to take up vaccinations. Governments around the world had to work hard to ramp up their science communication efforts in order to battle misinformation and gain control over the pandemic. It is fair to assume that the death toll would have been way higher in the absence of such efforts. Even in the pre-pandemic era misinformation, fake news, and lack of awareness cost human deaths that could have been prevented by effective science communication. Early diagnosis of diseases, awareness about treatment options, and timely doctor consultations can have a long-lasting impact on the lives of our dear ones. Unfortunately, mistrust of modern medicine and lack of exposure to biology leaves room for people to be influenced by social media easily. Therefore, there is a need for sustained science communication efforts that penetrate social media to help people make well-informed decisions. We at NGSF endeavor to build a system that can effectively do this with help of creative Indian life science students identified through our essay competition- The NxG Science Communicator.
In order to break free from conventional essay formats and to pique readers’ interest, this year we venture into the concept of the multiverse. Fortunately, the Marvel cinematic universe has ventured deeply into it through their recent web series (Loki, What if) and movies ( Spiderman and Doctor Strange ), making the concept less alien.
Time, Space, Reality, its more than a linear path. It’s a prism of endless possibilities. Where a single choice can branch out to infinite realities. Creating alternate worlds from the ones you know.
– What if…? Marvel Entertainment
What if you had the power to travel back in time and change something about your life? That one high school crush you wanted to ask out, or getting more marks in a particular subject to get into the college of your dreams. Let’s say if you did manage to do it (Nexus event), now there is a problem of accommodating both your present reality and altered reality in the same timeline. As a solution, time will branch out to accommodate both realities. Since people living in different realities will be completely separated from each other, they will be living in their universes collectively called the multiverse.
We find the multiverse a fantastic premise to explore the impact of important scientific events in our realities. COVID-19 almost made us feel like we were living in a zombie movie. Politicians, actors, and athletes may have also influenced our realities significantly. Imagine Indian cricket without M.S. Dhoni, or the Indian film industry without Rajnikanth. It’s time to add scientists to the influencers list. Unlike other people on the list, it is easy for the general public to imagine a world without them. Every year the Nobel prize committee identifies scientists whose contribution has a profound impact on our realities. How about we use that list to build a reality without them showing the world the impact of their contribution?
“Go back in time and create a nexus event in which the scientific contributions of a Nobel laureate(s) (1-3 awarded in a certain year) has been removed completely and chart the altered reality in the parallel universe up to 2022.”
List of Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, 1901-2000
The essay needs to follow a first-person narrative format as if you lived in that reality (Similar to a travel blog). Observe how people’s lives in that reality are affected due to the lack of contribution of the scientist you removed. Pay attention to government policies, education, society structure, medical system, patients and their families, anything that the audience can relate to understand the significance of the scientists’ contribution. Similar to photos in a travel blog, use illustrations/cartoons to depict peoples’ struggles in the altered reality for the readers.
Recommended Reference/Example Materials:
The NHS if… – A collection of essays exploring hypothetical scenarios for the future of health and care.
TV Shows and Movies:
Youtube channel Alternate History Hub
What if series answering hypothetical scientific questions
Best 20 Alternate History Podcasts
Applicants must be pursuing a Life Science degree/research in India (Up to the graduate level).
- Participants should form a team of two (Author and Cartoonist/Illustrator from the same college) for creating the essay
- Participants are allowed to remove only Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine, 1901-2000 awarded in a particular year
- The essay should assume that after removing the scientist, a similar contribution is not made by any another scientist later in that reality
- The general public is the target audience, so avoid using scientific jargon and convey your narrative in an engaging tone
- The essay can follow any writing structure
- The word count of the essay should not exceed 1000 words
- The Essay can have up to three in-text illustrations and one featured image (Banner for the essay)
- A 1 min video resembling Instagram reels/Youtube shorts (Vertical video) should be made marketing your essay to the readers
- Both team members should be part of Indian Life Science Network and provide their discord id during submission
- All queries regarding the competition will be answered by our team at the Indian Life Science Network/NGSF#essay-competition-queries channel
- Submissions should me made through our online submission portal
The best essays that are simple, engaging, and scientifically sound will be published in our blog. Among the published essays we plan to award a cash prize and a medal for three essays- Gold (INR 10000), Silver (INR 5000), and Bronze (INR 2500) based on our evaluation criteria and the number of readership views over a month. Publishing essays in our blog has helped authors gain a wide readership. Less than two years since its inception, our website has had 50,000 views from 74 different countries.
In addition to the cash prize, winners get an invitation to participate in NGS Authors Program which financially assists science communicators to publish in our blog.
Submissions: April 24,2022 to July 3,2022
Publishing on the blog: July 17, 2022
Announcement of Winners: August 15, 2022
Winners of previous editions: