With all the intrigue around China hacking Google and Google hacking back, it's easy to overlook the real-world consequences of what further escalation might lead to. Specifically: Chinese researchers and scientists could see the plug pulled on their work process.
A full 84% of Chinese scientists said that blocked access to Google would "somewhat or significantly" hamper their research, in a recent survey by Nature News. While there are alternative search engines like Baidu, none are nearly as effective at searching English-language sites or research papers as Google. Google Scholar, in particular, is an invaluable resource for tracking down academic papers.
It's an apt analogy from the unnamed scientist quoted above: research without Google really is like life without electricity. You can go on without it, but you can't thrive. You can't even compete. [Wired]