Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002


Sep 21, 2002 Editorial
When science hits the headlines...

by Pietro Greco

A survey has been recently carried out for the first time in Italy concerning science communication through the media and the result has been that science hits the headlines. It is often front-page news in the press and it is also often among the main points of the news on TV. This is not very surprising.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002


Sep 21, 2002 Article
How computers affected the humanities

by Emanuele Salerno

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.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002

Sep 21, 2002 Article
The difficulties of Biocommunication

by Eugenio Borrelli

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.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002

Sep 21, 2002 Article
Science Communication and the "via Panisperna boys": the Role of Ettore Majorana

by Angelo Mastroianni

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.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002

Sep 21, 2002 Article
From the Golem to Artificial Intelligence: science in the theatre for an existential reflection

by Silvana Barbacci

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.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002


Sep 21, 2002 Focus
Permanent observatory on science communication through the media

by Barbara Montolli

This article presents the results of a study carried out in Italy by the Permanent Observatory on science communication through the media. The aim of this research project coordinated by the staff of the Master’s Degree in Science Communication, ISAS, Trieste, in collaboration with Ilesis S.r.l., Rome, is to monitor and analyse systematically the amount of scientific information on TV and in the press.

Volume 1 • Issue 03 • 2002

Book Reviews

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