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October 21, 2007

Science and Cartoons

Science and Cartoons (Japan edition)

In the first post I made about Japan, you can see some examples of picture books on science and nature which the conference organisers had put together. One of the things that struck me was the way they integrated illustration in a rather artistic, children's literature style with approaches more common to technical illustation or photographic representation.

Some other books I found (looking in kids bookshops) were possibly even more exciting... Science Manga.

Doraemon Science communication - covers

More under the cut - warning to any on dial-up, this is pretty photo-heavy.

I was very excited, I almost dribbled. Admittedly, this may be a personal reaction - the books I look at for my thesis, Horrible Science, apply rather Beano-style illustrations to scientific exposition, so it was great to see a similar mix in another culture (though really, Science Manga, how could you not be excited - it's like Richard Dawkins meets Pokémon).

It's interesting to think about the effects of mixing these styles (e.g. the rather anarchic tone of much cartooning, with the more didactic tendencies of kids non-fiction). Especially, as I found in a second hand book shop recently, actual Beano Science does exist.

beano science

Although we might also think that fixing the fictions of cartoon characters with factual communication could be confusing, there are pedagogical uses in the more fantastical elements of cartooning. For example, employing a sort of 'fantastic voyage' device to allow readers a form of eye-witness (via protagonists) into places you wouldn't otherwise be able to go (n.b. Knife and Packer, the Magic School Bus series and Russell Stannard all do this sort of thing too, Stannard without much recourse to images, it can be entirely textual). Here we see Doraemon and friends traveling inside the human body.

Doraemon Science communication - insides 2

Finally, just in case you thought this was new. I found this image of the digestive system in the history of science museum in Tokyo. Can you see all the little people in the intestines? All images are links to flickr - you can find a few more examples in the set there.

Ancient Japanese diagram of the body - close up

October 18, 2007

CFP – Science & the Public 2008

Call For Papers – Third Annual ‘Science & the Public’ Conference, University of Manchester, 21st and 22nd, June 2008.

The past twenty years of scholarly study has demonstrated that science communication is a much more complex process than merely publishing in scientific journals and attending scientific meetings. Today the sciences are linked to society through many different channels of communication. The public interfaces with science during controversies that involve scientists as well as journalists, politicians and the citizenry as a whole. This intersection of science and the public raises many questions about the motivations of, and constraints on, actors involved in producing information about science for non-professional audiences. It also raises some fascinating questions about the nature, contexts and goals of the public communication of science from both a contemporary and historic perspective. This conference aims to bring together the wide ranging strands of academia that consider science as it intersects with non-scientific cultures.

Possible topics may include:

- Patients and publics in health services
- Notions of expertise in the public
- Public science and science policy
- Technological development and the public
- Science communication theory in practice
- News and entertainment media
- Science on the internet
- Science, technology and medicine in museums
- Public interest and 'the public interest'

We would particularly like to encourage those taking a critical approach to studying the public communication of technology and/or medicine to submit abstracts. The conference organizers also encourage full panel submissions and roundtable sessions on all topics related to the social, cultural, political, and ethical issues surrounding science & the public.

Panel proposals should include a panel abstract and individual abstracts for each of the papers on the panel as well as contact information (name, affiliation, email) of the presider (moderator) and all panel members. Individual paper proposals for a 20-minute presentation should submit an abstract (no longer than 300 words). Roundtable proposals should be a single abstract with names and contact information for all presenters.

All submissions should be emailed to scienceandpublic@googlemail.com by 14th March 2008. Please send enquires to this address as well.

October 11, 2007

Event: Experiment Marathon at the Serpentine Gallery

An intriguing event at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park this weekend: an 'Experiment Marathon' to take place on Saturday 13th (12 noon-11 pm) and Sunday 14th (10 am-3 pm). The schedule includes a combination of experiments and talks by multi-disciplinary lineup of speakers including scientists, artists and architects.

The experiments will apparently "explore ideas of time, space and of reality through models, vibrations and perception, investigating [Olafur] Eliasson's assertion that 'What we have in common is that we are different." I am curious about this as there are some forms of performance art that could easily be seen as experiments and this event may further blur the boundaries between experimental science and performance art (what an odd thing to write!)