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.
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.
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.
In four steps – from Renaissance to the dawn of the 20th century – this issue explores some aspects of the history of book sciences, as research and popularisation instruments also playing a role in economy. Adrian Johns speaks about the origin of science books in the Renaissance. Then, through the papers respectively by Bruce Lewenstein and Paola Govoni, the focus moves to science books in 19th-century America and Italy. They demonstrate that, in both countries, science books were a stimulus to the establishment of a national scientific community. Finally, Francesco De Ceglia exemplifies the role played by agrarian catechisms in the process of spreading farming skills among landowners.