Letter from the Editor: Fall 2016

This magazine is nothing but a blatantly selfish endeavor. It is not every day that one gets the opportunity to chronicle, from the inside, the rise of a great scientific institution. It is not every day that one gets the opportunity to work with some of the brightest minds in science, or share stories with people from the most diverse cultures, or walk on the shores of one of the most beautiful islands on the planet. It seems very natural, therefore, to take advantage of this opportunity to engage in what interests us deeply–ideas, stories, pictures, poems, doodles, and experiences we encounter here. Everything about OIST is quite astonishingly unique, and this magazine is an attempt to capture the experiences that arise from this very unique environment and put them out for everyone to read.
There are many issues that lie on the boundaries of science, and very often these issues could do with a scientific, rational perspective. Perhaps a magazine like Kuroshio can make it possible for us to look more closely, critically, and ironically at what happens around us. But more than that, I want this magazine to be a space for clear writing. Our world is plagued by bad writing–hyperboles, clichés, meaningless words, evasive sentences. Perhaps this is even truer in the world of science, which is why science is often so shockingly misrepresented in the public imagination. I hope that we, as members of a scientific community, can try to engage more clearly, more honestly, with the world outside this glass house. By taking the trouble to write more transparently, as George Orwell once put it, “we can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration.” I aspire to a more modest ambition–a slightly more nuanced perception of science and those engaged in it.
Kuroshio derives its name from the ocean current that passes by Okinawa as it travels northward—a vast stream of warm water that brings with it life and wealth for the people of Japan. I hope this magazine will emulate some of the properties of this great phenomenon and stir up a fresh, diverse, and interesting mix of content every season. In this pilot issue, you will find excerpts of a fascinating interview with a brilliant showman and mathematician, a vivid narrative of journeys to the islands around Okinawa, a description of an enchanting Japanese painting style, and a sobering perspective of the obsession with merit in science. I do hope this issue will keep you hooked for a few hours, and even convince you to contribute something of your own.
– Saahil Acharya