Article

13/05/2011

In colonial times in New Zealand the portrayal of science to the public had a sense of theatre, with nineteenth and early twentieth century grand exhibitions of a new nation’s resources and its technological achievements complemented by spectacular public lectures and demonstrations by visitors from overseas and scientific ‘showmen’. However, from 1926 to the mid-1990s there were few public displays of scientific research and its applications, corresponding to an inward-looking science regime presided over by the Government science agency, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The subsequent development of science centres with their emphasis on visitor participation has led to an increase in the audience for science and a revival of theatricality in presentation of exhibitions, demonstration lectures, café scientifiques, and science-related activities.

21/03/2011

The way policy makers mobilize scientific knowledge in order to formulate environmental policies is important for understanding the developmental process of environmental policies. Some biodiversity conservation policies, such as those establishing the conservation units and laws on the regulation of land use in protected areas, were selected as objects of analysis. The aim was to see whether political decision makers are supported by scientific knowledge or not. Based on interviews with technical staff from governmental institutions, politicians and scientists, this study analyzed the way the knowledge is mobilized by policy makers concerning measures related to biodiversity conservation in the state of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). We have concluded that environmental policy makers do not normally use the knowledge produced by scientific and academic institutions. Rather than being based on a systematic bibliographic research on environmental issues, the decisions are supported either by personal experience or by expert advice. The measures under analysis were not supported by evidence based on knowledge but motivated by political or economic interests. Paradoxically, policy makers consider themselves sufficiently well informed to make decisions concerning the policy to be implemented.

14/03/2011

This article examines the public at a science exhibition or festival and tries to determine whether casual visitors are a means of expanding the audience. According to a Swiss survey of public attitudes towards science (2005), the non-public of a science exhibition or festival is distinguished by demographics such as gender and education (more female and less educated), cultural practices (less frequent) and attitudes towards science (less positive). Considering the Swiss science festival of 2009, casual visitors differ from intentional ones in terms of sociodemographic aspects and scientific cultural practices; on the other hand, casual visitors are close to intentional ones in terms of non-scientific cultural practices and attitudes towards science. Consequently, casual visitors are one way of increasing audiences.

09/03/2011

A survey we carried out in upper secondary schools showed that the majority of the students consider physics as an important resource, yet as essentially connected to technology in strict terms, and not contributing “culture”, being too difficult a subject. Its appreciation tends to fade as their education progresses through the grades. The search for physics communication methods to increase interest and motivation among students prompted the Department of Physics at the University of Milan to establish the Laboratory of ScienzATeatro (SAT) in 2004. Up to May 2010, SAT staged three shows and one lesson-show having physics as a main theme, for students attending any grades at school. Good indicators of the efficacy of those shows are: the number of repeats (256 of them up to May 2010), the reputation of the theatres in which they were performed, and the results of two surveys on the achievement of the goals, which saw the participation of over 50 classes each.

21/12/2010

Media and communications technologies play a significant role in disaster management procedures in regards to the mobilization of resources in emergency situations. While the dissemination of warning messages relayed via broadcast technologies have had some positive outcomes in terms of reducing casualties in emergency situations in Bangladesh, there remain some specific problems in regards to the manner in which these messages are distributed within this developing nation. These problems are addressed within this paper. Examining the existing cyclonic warning dissemination system and the manner in which warning information is distributed and received, this study addresses citizen responses to mediated warning messages in the vulnerable coastal regions of Bangladesh. The results indicate that attitudes towards mediated warnings held by Bangladeshi citizens in these environs differ depending upon their access to media, type of dwelling and differing levels of literacy. This study also provides recommendations for media professionals and policymakers in regards to disseminating more effective warnings to the inhabitants of Bangladesh's cyclone-prone coastal belt.

14/12/2010

Science journalism usually focuses on achievements presented in scientific papers previously published in specialized journals. In this paper we argue that the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can help to widen this approach and reduce the dependency on scientific papers, by valuing not only scientists, but also other actors, theirs motivations, interests and conflicts. ANT could also help to reduce the distance between scientists and the audience by exposing uncertainties about the production of science.

27/10/2010

Assuming that scientific development and artistic research are genetically similar, this article shows the common need of knowledge of art and science, their dialectical and multidirectional relations and the unstable boundaries between them. The fractal art has assimilated the cognitive and perceptive changes in the realm of non-euclidean geometries and has become a precise instrument of "epistemological observation". Artistic practices materialize and communicate the laws of science, while scientific revolutions are in actual facts metaphorical revolutions.

21/09/2010

In this paper we analyze the coverage of the pandemic influenza caused by the A (H1N1) virus by the main Brazilian TV news. Jornal Nacional (JN) – which can be roughly translated with National News – reaches an average of 25 million people throughout the country daily. We have observed that the attention cycle given to the new flu by JN lasted approximately five months with significant space given to the disease. Most of the news highlighted the number of illness cases and the health measures to control the infection. Only a small amount of news dealt with issues related to research and scientific development, and included scientists as interviewees or as information sources. We believe that the coverage made by JN may have contributed to the dissemination of what some authors refer to as a "pandemic of panic".

13/08/2010

This article is a case study and rhetorical analysis of a specific scientific paper on a computer simulation in astrophysics, an advanced and often highly theoretical science. Findings reveal that rhetorical decisions play as important a role in creating a convincing simulation as does sound evidence. Rhetorical analysis was used to interpret the data gathered in this case study. Rhetorical analysis calls for close reading of primary materials to identify classical rhetorical figures and devices of argumentation and explain how these devices factor in the production of scientific knowledge. This article describes how abduction, dilemma, compensatio, aetiologia, and other tactics of argumentation are necessary in creating the simulation of a supernova. Ultimately, the article argues that rhetorical mechanisms may be responsible for making some simulations better and more sound than others.

05/08/2010

Public images of scientific researchers –as reflected in the popular visual culture as well as in the conceptions of the public- combine traditional stereotypic characteristics and ambivalent attitudes towards science and its people. This paper explores central aspects of the public image of the researcher in Greek students’ drawings. The students participated in a drawing competition held in the context of the ‘Researcher’s Night 2007’ realized by three research institutions at different regions of Greece. The students’ drawings reveal that young people hold stereotypic and fairly traditional and outdated views of scientists and scientific activity. Research institutions are faced with the challenge of establishing a sincere and fertile dialogue with society to refute obsolete and deceiving notions and to promote the role of researchers in society.

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