Meeting Summary. The Santa Fe Institute postdocs have recently produced a paper on the general concept of beneficial epidemics. This work addresses the idea of infectious and spreading beneficial elements in systems ranging from bacterial evolution to new social concepts. This work intersects with an array of emerging scientific concepts that are poorly understood in the public sphere, or which have been historically misconceived. For example, it is important to replace the concept that all bacteria are harmful with the growing knowledge of the essential role that the human microbiome plays in optimal health.
These ideas are relevant to an emerging scientifically-based graphic novel entitled “Noli Timere”. Jessica Green, Anita Doron, and Steve Green have begun work on a graphic novel aimed at telling an alternate story of viruses, bacteria, and fungi: that they are not universally harmful and deadly. The goal of this graphic novel is to communicate to the public the recent advances in fields such as the human microbiome, and now, beneficial epidemics. The graphic novel, “Noli Timere” aims to bring together cutting edge scientific ideas with top-notch story telling and graphic art to present to the public a narrative that is interesting and compelling but also deeply educational.
The goal of the workshop is to bring the Santa Fe Institute postdocs involved in the beneficial epidemics project together with the creators of “Noli Timere”. The combined team will discuss the overall story and concepts of the developing graphic novel in connection with the wide variety of scientific predictions and new information that has come out of the work on beneficial epidemics. Such a working group would be intellectually stimulating, contribute to the SFI culture of valuing the interface between science and art, and communicate important scientific ideas to the public.