Article

21/09/2002

This paper is concerned with the interactions between information technology and the humanities, and focuses on how the humanities have changed since adopting computers. The debate among humanists on the subject initially focuses on the alleged methodological changes brought about by the introduction of computing technology. It subsequently analyses the changes in research that were caused by IT not directly but indirectly, as a consequence of the changes effected on society as a whole. After briefly summarising the history of the interactions between information technology and the humanities, the paper draws on literature to examine the way humanists have perceived the evolution of their disciplines. The paper concludes by fitting the phenomenon into a model of scientific revolution.

21/09/2002

Communicating modern biotechnologies is certainly no easy task. To tackle such a complex and future-oriented assignment, help may arrive, paradoxically, from the past, from ancient rhetorical tradition, and in particular from Aristotle, the most renowned rhetoric teacher of all time. In his Rhetoric, Aristotle suggested that to be persuasive speakers should make use of widely accepted opinions (endoxa), i.e. the common sense shared by all. Common sense is expressed in common truths and value-laden maxims. Common sense, however, is not flat but dialectical, in that it includes contrasting subjects. While reasoning, orators do not just passively report a conception of an unchanging world, but they reproduce the contrasting conceptions included in common sense. In the case of the debate about Biotechnologies, the contrasting conceptions can be found in the Natural/Artificial dualism, in the dichotomy between an attitude marked by obscurantism and suspicion of scientific and technological innovation and that of a scientistic attitude.

21/09/2002

Enrico Fermi's work gave birth to a real cultural revolution in the Italian scientific scenario. His scientific studies concerned almost every field in physics and had far-reaching effects of which virtually everybody, above all in Italy, is still taking advantage. Two important "by-products" of Fermi's ideas and initiatives will be here taken into consideration: the new way of carrying out research and communicating science invented by Fermi and his group and his publications for the general public, which often stood for high examples of scientific popularisation. Then the focus will shift on Ettore Majorana's role to try to understand why his work in the field of communication within the School of Physics of Rome was basically non-existent despite the excellent communicative skills he demonstrated both during his university lectures ­ also published in this magazine ­ and in his article "Il valore delle leggi statistiche nella fisica e nelle scienze sociali", the only one which does not deal with pure physics issues and which will be also taken into account in this paper.

21/09/2002

This work analyses how the theme of the creation of thinking machines by man, particularly through artificial intelligence, is dealt with on stage, with reference to three plays addressing different topics and characterised by different types of performance. This analysis reveals the particular effectiveness of plays dealing with scientific topics, when the relationship between theatre and science results in reflections transcending the boundaries of its contents to address man and his essence and gives voice to the ancient question of the sense of the world.

21/06/2002

"I consider Leopardi's poetry and pessimism to be the best expression of what a scientist's credo should be". This quotation is from Bertrand Russell, no less. With these very emblematic words, the greatest man of letters, the supreme icon of the Italian Parnasse, the author of such collections of poems as Canti (Poems) and Operette Morali (The Moral Essays) and philosophical thoughts as Zibaldone (Miscellany) has been associated to the world of science. This relationship, very intense and to a certain extent new, was greatly emphasised on the occasion of the poet's birth bicentenary. During the celebration in 1996, an exhibition with the name of Giacomo and Science was organized in his birthplace to underline the close connection between the poet and the scientific culture of his epoch. This point has also been stressed recently.

21/06/2002

According to Einstein's renowned declaration, for those who believe in physics ­ or, more precisely, in its capability to offer a "scientific" representation of the world ­ the distinction between present, past and future is just "an illusion, though obstinate". If we consider an effective analogy by Mauro Dorato, we can state that those who agree with the famous German scientist will recognize in the present, past and future a relationship very similar to that between "here" and "somewhere else" ­ in other words, the present is just a located moment and has no privileged status.

21/06/2002

Popularising mathematics requires a preliminary reflection on language and terms, the choice of which results from underlying dynamics. The aim of this article is to start an overall analysis of the conditions influencing this linguistic choice.

21/03/2002

This paper describes how a universal language for notating dance and, more generally, movement was elaborated, known as "Kinetography Laban", or rather "Labanotation". It was devised by choreographer and movement theorist Rudolf von Laban, who outlined it for the first time in 1928, in the journal Schrifttanz. His system differs from precedent notation systems in that Labanotation is rigorous and universal, as it is based not on one particular style or technique but on the general

21/03/2002

"Il ciclotrone" is the weekly science programme of "Radio Popolare - Popolare Network". During the last 12 years, once or twice a month listeners have been able to directly ask questions to the guest scientists in the studios, or to express their point of view on some controversial scientific issue. Phone-ins at Radio Popolare are not filtered; regular and occasional listeners are used to communicate with or through the radio, and in doing so they contribute to the sense of spontaneity which characterise the programmes.

21/03/2002

Ever since Galileo's time, scientists have been interested in how to create a perfect language capable of supporting communication at a horizontal level i.e. within the scientific community, and at a vertical level, i.e. between scientists and the public. Special attention will be spent on the mathematicians' role, especially Giuseppe Peano's. The Italian mathematician played a leading role in the creation of a perfect language, both at a horizontal and a vertical level. On the one hand, there is his successful attempt to introduce a standard logical and symbolic system of notation, which became essential for communication among mathematicians. On the other hand, there is the complete failure of his ambitious Latino sine flexione (Latin without inflection), a perfect language which died with its creator.

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