Article

21/12/2006

An effective communication of astronomy cannot take place without considering the view the general public has on the universe. Through a number of narrative interviews with non-experts, a research was carried out on personal cosmologies, to outline the public’s heterogeneous astronomical imagery. The result is a bundle of conceptions, perceptions and attitudes which are useful to interpret the difficulties the public experiences when facing the contents of astrophysics, and to establish an ongoing dialogue.

21/09/2006

Science information professionals need to make choices through which media they want to communicate with the public. In reaching large audiences outside the domain of formal diffusion of knowledge, the choice may be between the old medium television and the new medium Internet. It seems that general scientific research is focused more and more on the Internet as a favorite means for information exchange and that the old mass medium television plays only a minor role. But when we look at (1) how the public spends their leisure time on television and the Internet, (2) how effective these media are in transferring information, and (3) how much these media are trusted as reliable sources of information, the old medium television should still be regarded as the number one medium to be used for science communication, although there are some limitations for its use.

21/09/2006

The attacks of September 11 2001 and in particular, the sending of letters containing anthrax spores the following October had a profound effect on society, and at the same time on science and its communicative mechanisms. Through a quanto-qualitative analysis of articles taken from four publications: two daily newspapers, the Corriere della Sera from Italy and the New York Times from the United States and two science magazines, Science and Nature, we have shown how the aforementioned events provoked the emergence of media attention regarding bioterrorism. A closer reading of the articles shows that today, science – including that found in science magazines – is closely related to politics, economics and the debate over the freedom to practice communicate. The very mechanisms of communication between scientists were changed as a result of this debate, as can be seen from the signing of the Denver Declaration in February 2003, which brought about the preventative self-censorship of publication of biomedical research findings.

21/06/2006

The discussion on the state of the art of scientific publications in Latin American countries generally restricts itself to its supposedly low visibility. This affirmation is generally conditioned to the exclusive use of large international databases, mainly of the USA and Europe, which include thousands of scientific publications that have marginalized a large part of the scientific literature produced in peripheral countries. Given this fact of low visibility, it became imperative for some Latin American countries, beginning in the 90s (20th Century), to develop their own mechanisms of projection of the results of their own scientific production. The experiences constitute an example for countries that, having significant scientific production, still do not have the means to facilitate access to local scientific publications. Although Bolivia still remains distant from these initiatives, a series of studies were identified that show the existence of a tradition of publication in scientific magazines and interest in their visibility, on a local and international level, which demands attention to the most adequate mechanisms in order to carry this out.

21/06/2006

Following the example of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, interactive science museums are meant to be informal and enjoyable places where visitors, regardless of their age and background, are stimulated to practice their abilities to explore the world from a scientific point of view or to reacquire it in the case of adults who are far from science for professional reasons. Our study, which belongs to a relatively recent, but increasingly richer and complex tradition of researches on this topic, aims at contributing to answering the question whether, within the context of hands-on museums, this desired reacquisition of scientific exploration actually occurs for all visitors; more precisely, it aims at contributing to the discussion resulting from this question with reference to both possible answers and methods to find them. The study described below was carried out for a Science Communication Master thesis in Trieste (student: Monia Cardella, supervisor: Paola Rodari) and, therefore, it is inevitably limited: in fact, in order to deal with such a complex issue and to perform more detailed investigations on the field longer time and more resources would have been necessary. However, both methods used and results obtained from it, although provisional, are significant enough to deserve our attention.

21/03/2006

The article reports the outcome of an analysis of the reception of Bertolt Brecht’s play, "The Life of Galileo", as presented by Giorgio Strehler (Milan, 1963) and Brecht himself in collaboration with Erich Engel (East Berlin, 1957), carried out on respective press reviews. The reviews were examined by the application of quantitative analysis based on the recurrence of determinate themes associated with images of science. In comparing the results of the analysis of each of the two press reviews, it appears that different images were conveyed by the same play performed in two different contexts for different audiences. Italy, in particular, showed a more frequent recurrence of the conflict between science and religion as a result of the ongoing cultural and spiritual authority of the Church, whereas in the German Democratic Republic’s communist regime, where Brecht is a troublesome but tolerated intellectual, the topics of the scientist’s freedom within the Establishment and intellectual courage were more frequent.

21/03/2006

The use of various expressive artistic forms in science centres and in interactive museums is becoming increasingly widespread. This paper proposes an interpretation of this phenomenon that emphasises how contemporary art contributes to experimentation with new forms of scientific communication. Furthermore, it examines the considerable overlap apparent between the themes addressed by contemporary artists and current scientific developments. Indeed, just as can be seen in science centres, artistic experimentation has assumed a new role: raising public awareness of what is happening around us today.

21/12/2005

This study presents the results of a qualitative analysis based on 13 crime news articles from Italian newspapers, to show that the belief that mental disorder predisposes many of those suffering from it to behave violently has endured, though the 180 bill was passed 25 years ago. Although the question has already been addressed by social psychologists and psychiatrists, it has not been discussed in great detail by science communication. However, this considers crime articles in newspapers as very interesting examples of indirect communication on health issues, where common belief prevails. The articles analyzed were about two matricides dating back to 1972 and 2001 respectively. The analysis showed that the belief that people with mental illnesses are recognizable, antisocial, can behave violently and cannot recover, has endured over many years. Nevertheless, statements about people with mental disorders are more accurate and the idea that the risk of violence among released mental patients is predictable, has been set aside.

21/12/2005

In this paper I use the concepts “understanding of science” and “appreciation of science” to analyze selected case studies of current science communication in Denmark. The Danish science communication system has many similarities with science communication in other countries: the increasing political and scientific interest in science communication, the co-existence of many different kinds of science communication, and the multiple uses of the concepts of understanding vs. appreciation of science. I stress the international aspects of science communication, the national politico-scientific context as well as more local contexts as equally important conditions for understanding current Danish science communication.

21/09/2005

Florence's La Specola Museum stirs up strong emotions. Among its collections, the valuable anatomical wax models created between the end of 17th and the beginning of 18th century stand out owing to their marvellous and provocative nature. The aim of this essay is to analyse the communication models epitomised by some of these works by means of historical semiotics, to nourish the widespread, but often underestimated assumption that science and the means used to spread it have always been influenced by intellectual suppositions and constantly interact with contemporary culture.

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