[IRTalk] The frustrated science student behind Sci-Hub | Science | AAAS

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Fri Apr 29 11:39:06 SAST 2016

Beyond being the founder of Sci-Hub, the world’s largest pirate site for
academic papers, and risking arrest as a result, Alexandra Elbakyan is a
typical science graduate student: idealistic, hard-working, and relatively
poor. In 1988, when Elbakyan was born in Kazakhstan, the Soviet Union was
just beginning to crumble. Books about dinosaurs and evolution fascinated
her early on. “I also remember reading Soviet science books that provided
scientific explanations for miraculous events thought previously to be
produced by gods or magic.” She was hooked.

At university in the Kazakh capital, she discovered a knack for computer
hacking. It appealed to her because “unlike higher programming languages
that are created by people and are volatile,” making and breaking computer
security systems requires a deeper knowledge of mathematics and the
primitive “assembly language” that computers use to move information.

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