Representations of science and technology

11/06/2015

The representation of self and the nature of our identities often converge through technological forms. This study investigates the promotional techniques of seven companies selling DNA portraits, the objective being to uncover how these images derived from laboratory processes are viewed as valid depictions of the self and scientific knowledge. DNA portraits are revealed as the intertwining of technology and identity through celebrations of the technoself.

21/05/2015

Throughout the second half of the twentieth century a varied collection of pressure mechanisms were deployed from nuclear technology exporting countries — mainly from the US — to obstruct the development of a group of semi-peripheral countries’ autonomous nuclear capabilities. Argentina was part of this group. This article focuses on how “fear” of nuclear proliferation was used by US foreign policy as one of the most effective political artifacts to construct and protect an oligopolistic nuclear market.
Spread by the press and by some prestigious social science sectors from the US and some European countries, a persistent and dense discourse production was devoted over several decades to the bizarre practice of “calculating” the alleged hidden intentions of those semi-peripheral countries which aspired to dominate as many technologies of the nuclear
fuel cycle as possible.

31/03/2015

The literature illustrates how media research on the energy question is characterized by a limited focus on separate energy options, resulting in a lack of research into the diversity of and mutual relations between various energy options. This paper reports on a quantitative content analysis of eight Belgian newspapers (N=1181), focusing on whether certain energy options are systematically more covered in certain regions, types of newspapers and/or types of newspaper sections. The results show that five energy options dominate the debate and that there are minimal differences per region, but remarkable differences between types of newspapers and newspaper sections.

12/03/2015

This paper tries to 1) identify the dominant media frames of science and 2) compare media selection and framing of science-related articles in Croatian daily newspapers during two politically and socioculturally different periods: the late socialism and the (post)transition. The research methodology was based on content and frame analysis which encompassed articles on science in daily press with the highest readership between 1986–1988, and 2006–2008. The main findings indicate changes in the selection of science topics as well as in the representation of individual frames. Changes reflected not only current events in the world of science but also wider social and journalistic values, as well as evaluations of the importance of specific topics.

17/11/2014

The Internet is increasingly considered as a legitimate source of information on scientific and technological topics. Lay individuals are increasingly using Internet sources to find information about new technological developments, but scientific communities might have a limited understanding of the nature of this content. In this paper we examine the nature of the content of information about fusion energy on the Internet. By means of a content and thematic analysis of a sample of English-, Spanish- and Portuguese-language web documents, we analyze the structural characteristics of the webs, characterize the presentation of nuclear fusion, and study the associations to nuclear fission and the main benefits and risks associated to fusion technologies in the Web. Our findings indicate that the information about fusion on the Internet is produced by a variety of actors (including private users via blogs), that almost half of the sample provided relevant technical information about nuclear fusion, that the majority of the web documents provided a positive portrayal of fusion energy (as a clean, safe and powerful energy technology), and that nuclear fusion was generally presented as a potential solution to world energy problems, as a key scientific challenge and as a superior alternative to nuclear fission. We discuss the results in terms of the role of Internet in science communication.

22/09/2014

We analysed the representations of science and of scientists at Jornal Nacional, the main Brazilian TV news. We carried out content and frames analysis, besides the lexical and semantic analysis of the transcriptions of the science and technology stories. Our results show a narrative that highlights the novelties and the epopee of the scientific advance, mainly in the health field. But to the emotional palette feelings of combat, anxiety and triumph were added. The face of the scientist presented by the TV news is mainly masculine, suggesting a stereotyped role of the male and female scientist: meanwhile men go out to literally explore other worlds, women take care of health and of the body.

22/09/2014

The purpose of this study is to quantify the use of science fiction films in academic papers as well as to analyse the patterns of use of those films indexed in international databases, using the ISI Web of Science database. Twenty films were selected from recognised sources. Films referenced in the scientific literature were detected and, with quantitative methodologies, we classified their genres, the journals of publication and the disciplines they belong to. Finally, we performed a detailed study of each paper in which selected films were found, to observe and categorise specifically the ways such film references are used.

25/03/2014

Modern society has led many people to become consumers of data unlike previous generations. How this shift in the way information is communicated and received — including in areas of science — and affects perception and comprehension is still an open question. This study examined one aspect of this digital age: perceptions of astronomical images and their labels, on mobile platforms. Participants were n = 2183 respondents to an online survey, and two focus groups (n = 12 astrophysicists; n = 11 lay public). Online participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 12 images, and compared two label formats. Focus groups compared mobile devices and label formats. Results indicated that the size and quality of the images on the mobile devices affected label comprehension and engagement. The question label format was significantly preferred to the fun fact. Results are discussed in terms of effective science communication using technology.

13/03/2014

Metaphors and visualizations are important for science communication, though they may have limitations. This paper describes the development and evaluation of a novel interactive visualization, the "Dynamic Evolutionary Map"' (DEM), which communicates biological evolution using a non-standard metaphor. The DEM uses a map metaphor and interactivity to address conceptual limitations of traditional tree-based evolutionary representations. In a pilot evaluation biology novices used the DEM to answer questions about evolution. The results suggest that this visualization communicates some conceptual affordances differently than trees. Therefore, the described approach of building alternative visual metaphors for challenging concepts appears useful for science communication.

24/09/2013

For lay people, mass media are the main source of scientific information; that is why science journalists’ selection and depiction of scientific issues is an important field to study. This paper investigates science journalists’ general issue selection and additionally focuses on science journalists’ depiction of nanoscale science and technology and its related scientific evidence (certainty/uncertainty of research findings). Face-to-face interviews with science journalists (n = 21) from different German media channels were conducted. The results show that the professional role conception, personal interest, news factors and organizational processes mainly influence the selection of science journalists. Overall, journalists have increasingly positive attitudes towards nanoscale science and technology. But results indicate that the coverage of scientific evidence differs according to the science journalists’ focus on beneficial or risky aspects of this emerging technology: journalists stress scientific uncertainty predominantly when discussing the risks of nanoscale science and technology.

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