Scientific American: A High-Speed Scientific Hive Mind Emerged from the COVID Pandemic

February 21st, 2022

Most of the time science is a slow and tedious business. Researchers toil away for decades at obscure limits of human knowledge, collecting and analyzing data, refining theories, writing, debating, and advancing our understanding of the world in tiny increments. Working in small teams on highly specialized projects far from the public eye—that is what most of us are accustomed to doing.

But a calamity upends everything. In early 2020 COVID spread around the globe. For researchers, the emergence of the disease was an all-hands-on-deck moment.

The scale of cooperation and collaboration is staggering. Large-scale surveys of scientists done in 2020 and 2021 show that roughly a third of researchers in the U.S. and Europe contributed to the effort.

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