The Norwegian Nobel Committee has bestowed the 2007 Nobel Peace Price equally upon the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore, former vice-President of the United States of America, with the same motivation: «for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change».
After serving the community for seven years, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha (MCCM) has decided to renew itself. In this context, a survey of the needs and expectations of the people to which the museum is dedicated plays a major role for the changes planned to prove successful. Teachers are among the main users of the museum, staying at the core of all teaching-learning processes, and play a role as mediators between science and students. This paper analyses the judgements made by teachers about various types of events and teaching resources which are normally provided by science museums and, more specifically, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha. Against that backdrop, science (our content), education (our objective) and the democratic participation of teachers will show a clear route to follow if one wants to achieve quality for our institution and its future events.
Near the turn of the Century, a woman in her 90s from Dodge City, Kansas was riding her horse near the Pecos River and she described it as a sea of saltgrasses...You had to be very close to the river to see it because the grass was so high You could drink the water out of the springs in this area. I used to ride down to the Pecos River on horseback...There was a lot more water in it back then. We grew cantaloupes...and people were amazed at how sweet they were... We stopped because the water [became] was too salty. In 1903, fresh watercress and ferns were growing at Independence Springs [on the Lower Pecos River]...and there were pools of catfish and silver bass. Residents along Independence Creek sold minnows and other bait fish they took from the river. We had a terrible flood in 1941 and 1942 which breached Zimmerman Dam. The river at some places was 10 miles wide. Floodwater covered the valley and the dam was washed out. It seems there is always less water in the Pecos than we need... I think the water quality is worse now-- not that the Pecos River was ever beautiful and clear. When my grandfather got here 110 years ago, they had a lot of water problems then. The prospect of fixing the saltcedar problem and making this area come back the way it was 100 years ago looks bleak for to me...I don't know if we can do that --Quotes from long-time residents of the Pecos River of Texas
Sometimes scientists live real dramas or undergo social and psychological conflicts which have a positive or negative influence on the development and recognition of their research, discoveries and inventions in society, including the way they are recorded in history. This being so, the question is: to what extent can science be communicated to the public at large by the use of scientists' biographies as a motivational strategy? The controversy arises from the fact that usual (classical) science has traditionally argued for the separation (or de-linking) of the research (the object) from the researcher (the subject).Thus, if the above-mentioned motivational strategy is used in scientific communication, it could break a dominant methodological trend and consequently lead to a questioning of the myth of axiological neutrality in science. The communication of science by means of scientists' biographies could be useful for reaching a specific public, more directed towards emotional aspects, thereby awakening its interest in science, even amid cultural differences and in environments where interest in science and its utility is lacking. It could also reveal human aspects of the everyday life of scientists, bringing them closer to the public at large, which would contribute to the dissemination of science and knowledge.
In 2007, global investments in R&D have increased by 7% on the previous year and have reached an absolute historical peak, exceeding for the first time the threshold of 1,100 billion dollars (calculated in the hypothesis of a purchasing power parity between the currencies). The world invests in scientific research and technological development 2.1% of the wealth it produces. At the same time, there has been an increase in the exchange of high added-knowledge value goods and high tech represents now the most dynamic sector of the world economy.
Within just a few months, new releases in the world of publishing have seen two books dealing with science and The Simpsons, one published in the US and the other in Italy: last spring, What's science ever done for us? by Paul Halpern (John Wiley & Sons, New York 2007) and, this autumn, La scienza dei Simpson by Marco Malaspina (Sironi Editore, Milano 2007).