The most popular science paper of 2016 is from ... Obama? Yup. And it's about Obamacare.

Can you guess which science story was the most talked about in 2016?

As you can see, hot sauce is amazing and needs to go on everything. Image from iStock.

It's a tough one — there were a lot of great science studies. We had the paper that linked Zika and birth defects, for instance. Plus there was the evidence of Einstein-affirming gravitational waves, the mysterious Planet Nine, and that time scientists tried to teach a computer Go.


But there was one story that ruled them all, according to the U.K. firm Altmetric. They analyzed over 17 million mentions of nearly 3 million pieces of research, tracking not just how they were received in the scientific community, but how they were talked about by the news and social media.

So who won? The freakin' president of the United States of America.

President Obama at South by Southwest in 2016. Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for SXSW.

That's right. It's Obama. Back in June, Obama published a real, scientific, peer-reviewed article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The paper, "United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps," was kind of a report card on Obamacare.

It's free to read, but boiled down, it basically said that based on an analysis of public data, the Affordable Care Act had positive effects on insurance coverage, access to care, and overall health. Of course, there were still some significant gaps that future policymakers could fix. Basically, the paper gave Obamacare a B+.

The paper dominated Altmetric's analysis, garnering their highest score ever, largely fueled by a gigantic public reaction.

It's kind of cool to see this marriage of policy and science. It's also an awesome reminder that Obama is a giant, unabashed nerd.

This paper made Obama the first president to ever write a proper scientific paper while in office. That said, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have published opinions in the past, and, weirdly, it turns out Thomas Jefferson was really into writing about giant sloths.

No, seriously. There's a species of extinct giant sloth named after him. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

This end-of-the-year surprise feels especially apropos considering how much of a talking point Obamacare was during the election and the fact that its future seems uncertain at this point.

But nevertheless, nerds unite. 'Cause science geeks: It turns out we've got friends in high places.

Heroes

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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