Difference and Repetition

“We have seen all that this valorisation of the negative signified (…) and the manner in which we are led away from the most important task, that of determining problems and realising in them our power of creation and decision. That is why conflicts, oppositions and contradictions seemed to us to be the surface effects and conscious epiphenomena, while the unconscious lived on problems and differences. History progresses not only by negation and negation of negation, but by deciding problems and affirming differences.”

“In truth, the origin of antinomies is as follows: once the nature of the problematic and the multiplicity which defines the Idea is misrecognised, once the Idea is reduced to the Same or even to the identity of a concept, the negative takes wing. Instead of the creative process of determination in the Idea, what emerges is a process of opposition of contrary predicates or limitation of primary predicates. To restore the differential in the Idea, and difference to the affirmation which flows from it, is to break this unholy bond which subordinates difference to the negative.”

Gilles Deleuze


Open Data in Science: ideas and actions

Science seems to be following a dangerous path. Its costs increase, while funding decreases. More tools, more people, more disciplines, and more data are necessary to address current scientific questions. At the same time, present needs are often sought with last century means. Do-it-yourself egoistic opaque competition is proving to be as ineffective as unsustainable. In particular, when data is generated individually and used for one or two studies, its great potential is immediately wasted from the very same moment it is kept in a folder. Even worse, given that science is mostly publicly funded, it is absurd and unethical to withhold data to the public and, specially, to every other scientist. In a word, sharing is more important and urgent than ever. Why don’t we share, then?


Our ingrained fears make us withhold what we own to avoid losing it. In some cases, one might simply not want to share. In others, perhaps we do not know how. Paradoxically, it is of the essence of virtual things not to lend themselves to division as they are used. Data, the central element in science, happens to fall in this special category. Luckily, data has never been so abundant as today. Sharing scientific data exponentially increases our chances to do better science and, in some cases, even the possibility to do science at all. Data is wealth, it flourishes as it flows. So, it is not all bad news! The real challenge now is to keep the bit-per-buck ratio high. We need to promote open data in science. But how?


In order to enhance an open culture, eloquence alone will not work. Fear can only be overcome with knowledge. And knowledge is only accessible by means of experience. Accordingly, we need to facilitate a space for interaction where benefits are clear and readily available to both parties. In our opinion, enhancing open data in science can be solved to the extent that flexible platforms are available and proper recognition is in place. Put it plain, the giver gets credit, merit and visibility. The taker has the opportunity to reuse existing resources, which would be hard to generate otherwise. Both spontaneously engage in a feedback process where data is curated, new hypothesis proposed, and interaction yields to unforeseen consequences. Nobody loses. Everybody wins.


We cannot expect others to make the first move. We need to lead by example and cultivate trust. In a nutshell, this is our proposal. First, we will build a platform named dplus1.org where anyone can share and access scientific data, centralizing already existing links to facilitate its search and use. Second, we will post our own data and sincerely encourage our peers to use it. Third, we will invite our peers to follow suit, namely, this time we will carry out a scientific study based upon their experimental data. Fourth, we envisage creating the Panton Index as a measure for data openness of scientists, labs and institutions. We will organize a series of events to raise awareness and participation within the scientific community. Last, we will turn the scientific method on the way we do science, analyzing the results of the above initiatives to draw conclusions of what worked and did not work.


An ambitious strategy will fail if it is not pragmatic at the same time. During this 12 months period, we will focus on the field of neuroscience. As an implementation case, we will promote open data for animal behavior, which is our field of research and where we reckon a burning need and great benefits. The ideas and action plans we propose are scalable and evolvable. We aim to spread by contagion. On the whole, this is an unprecedented opportunity: as scientists, we are offered the possibility to be leaders not only in our scientific mirco-domains of expertise, but to contribute with our attitude to culture and society as a whole. Then, every step we take into the unknown becomes a unique collective creative act.

Science Time Travel

The Higgs boson has been found! Its existence, now confirmed, helps solving one of the most fundamental mysteries of all times: the origins of mass. My science time travel would have the Mount Sinai as destination, in order to meet Moses as he descended with the Ten Commandments. First, I would share the profound scientific explanation of why stuff is made of matter. We would revisit the genesis creation narrative. Moses, a one-man army receiving laws directly from God, might be positively surprised to realize how scientists can extract knowledge from Nature. Next, I would stress that such an intellectual achievement parallels a technological one: the largest machine ever built, the most precise measurements ever made, and the possibility to observe the smallest confines of the universe at unimaginable scales. Perhaps that would temper his wrath on people adoring golden idols. Crashing tables would give way to hadron collisions. Last, I would substantiate that the discovery of the Higgs represents a collective achievement transcending nations, religions and politics; a paradigm of collaboration, effort and humility. Planting the seed of confidence in the potential of human beings back in the dawn of the ages is, no doubt, a monumental investment. Were these ideals to be held by one of the most respected prophets of three major religious traditions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the evolution of human mind would be expedited. It might only take education and a tiny boson to place us at the edge of the Unknown.