Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005


Mar 21, 2005 Editorial
The Tsunami challenge

by Pietro Greco

Many lives could have been saved on 26 December 2004, when the tsunami unleashed by an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 off the coast of the Indonesian island Sumatra struck a dozen coastal villages along the Indian Ocean. Those lives could have been saved if, on that day, science communication had not resulted in a complete failure to communicate scientific information adequately in many cases, in different places and at different levels. A long time passed between the violent shock and the devastation caused by the tsunami waves ­ in most cases, many hours.

Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005


Mar 21, 2005 Article
Historians of science and the "Sobel Effect"

by Paola Govoni

In 1995, journalist Dava Sobel's Longitude caused an earthquake in the history of science community. The present article analyses how only recently historians of science have fully realized the novelty the book represented. In the meantime, the international success of popular books by journalists on the history of science has become a well-known phenomenon. The author suggests that the huge publishing success of Sobel's book ­ the "Sobel Effect" ­ has provoked three main kinds of reaction among historians: rejection, detachment, and imitation. Which of the three strategies is the best, for both public and authors?

Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005

Mar 21, 2005 Article
Understanding How the Public Perceives the Importance of University Research in the United States

by Ric Jensen

Most universities in the United States have little or no idea about how the public perceives the importance of research done at these institutions. Learning whether the public believes academic research is valuable, meaningful, and practical has implications for higher education, if the public believes that university research is of little worth. This project utilized naturalistic and qualitative methods to learn how alumni perceived the importance of research at a major public university with a heavy concentration in research (Texas A&M University). Long interviews using open-ended questions were conducted with 133 alumni at 33 locations in Texas. Interviews were transcribed, unitized, and coded using qualitative methods, and themes were identified. Findings provide insights into whether the public believes university research is important, how the public learns about research, whether public relations programs are effective, the importance of research and teaching, and the types of research the public wants universities to pursue. A framework is proposed to learn about how well the public understands science and to measure the effectiveness of media and education programs to raise both science awareness and understanding of science.

Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005


Mar 21, 2005 Focus
Science communication in India: current situation, history and future developments

by Marzia Mazzonetto

Nowadays, India is experiencing a widespread diffusion of science communication activities. Public institutions, non-governmental organisations and a number of associations are busy spreading scientific knowledge not only via traditional media but also through specific forms of interaction with a varied public. This report aims to provide a historical overview of the diffusion of science communication in India, illustrating its current development and its future prospects.

Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005


Book Reviews

Dec 09, 2005 Book Review
Understanding science publics

by Daniele Gouthier

Exploring public attitudes towards science helps investigate the images of science and what the social representations of science are. In this regard, science communication plays a crucial role in its different ways of addressing different publics.

Volume 4 • Issue 01 • 2005