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  • Writer's pictureSoumna Nema

Soundtrack To Plagiarism

I used to be a Scientist at Caltech. This had been my dream since I was eight years old. I wanted to be an astrophysicist, and I became one. I was inspired by great scientists like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking (and later, Sheldon Lee Cooper) like everyone else, but as a kid, I really wanted to discover a planet so that I could name it Goofy because if Pluto and Goofy are both dogs they should have equal rights and get equal recognition (besides, Goofy can walk on his forelimbs)… But I'm afraid that ship has sailed. Everything was going great until a virus from the internet invaded my computer and everything went to shit.

Six months ago, on a Saturday as I recall, I had returned home from another disappointing day at work. A colleague of mine accused me of stealing some other scientist's work or building on previous research every now and then but it wasn't true. Yes, the originality of my work could be questioned but I never plagiarized anyone else's work. But this incessant bullying (or harmless teasing, as the said colleague, liked to say) made me hate the job I spent my entire life working toward. Additionally, I was told our funding was going to be cut. I was really stressed out. As you can see, I was working on Saturdays. I hated it.

What no one knew was that I was working on a research project that could be groundbreaking and may help us understand our universe better. I wanted to work on it in secret for as long as I could because I didn't want to share the credit; this possible new discovery would be mine and mine only. What's more, I felt like I was very close to obtaining the findings of my research. Nonetheless, I was exhausted from the day's work.

So I went on the web to look for distractions. I remembered that my favorite band had released their new album that day. I also remembered how good it felt to have something to look forward to, and then forget about it, and then remember it on the day it was supposed to happen. It's almost rewarding. This doesn't apply to all situations, of course.

Anyway, upon this rediscovery, I started to look for pirated copies of the album, just as someone who is going to be paid less for quite some time would, and I found what I needed. The website looked fishy like any website designed for online piracy but I knew I had my Antivirus software to protect me and the album was incredible.

Guess what, the antivirus had expired the day before.

This, I realized the next day when my entire hard drive had been wiped out. My computer seemed to have been master reset. And yes, this was the computer that I stored all my work on. ALL. MY. WORK.

Lucky for me, I had a backup computer in my office at Caltech. I didn't tell anyone about the incident because my data was safe. Or at least that's what I thought.

The assumption that my data was safe proved to be false the month after this incident when a scientist from Asia got nominated for the Nobel Prize for my life's work. How did I know it wasn't that scientist's independent research? He wrote me a god-damned e-mail. I had never felt that frustrated before. To this day, I feel like it's only fair to blow that **** up for what he did to me. But I had drowned myself in self-loathing and self-pity accompanied by the vicious cycle those two things entail and now, when I have finally resorted to blaming that r*scal as a defense mechanism against my stupidity, I don't have the security clearance to even try to commit the federal crime of my choosing to avenge the tragic demise of my self-esteem...

I don't want to talk about it any further.

Dearest reader, no matter how qualified you are or are not, please look after your computer and the data it stores. Your computer is not a fortress. It is a garden of beautiful things. And this garden needs to be cared for and maintained.

Keep updating your Antivirus, stay the hell away from online piracy, do not download attachments from any e-mail that seems suspicious, learn to identify e-mail fraud and scam, and always keep yourself updated when it comes to new kinds of cybercrime."Stay woke", as it were.

Viruses are the worst, as we've all learned in 2020. This includes real life as well as computer viruses. Both can be lethal. One can make you very sick and lead to death, the other can embarrass you, make you regret your life decisions, and then make you want to kill yourself.

So where am I now? I write to you from Kathmandu, hoping to become a wizard (like Doctor Strange) in order to escape to a mirror dimension and stay there forever.

My complacency has rendered my life insufferable.

Don't make the mistakes I made.

I hope you understand.

If not, you're welcome to stay with me in Kathmandu. We can be wizards together!


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