History of SciComm Lifeology Course – Visual Notes


Left panel: On 24 November 1994, the first UK National Consensus Conference on Plant Biotechnology (UKNCC) took place in London. It was a significant experiment in the facilitation of dialogue between scientists and non-scientists over socially sensitive scientific and technological issues.

Right panel: The UK ‘Week of Science’ launched in 1994. In the initial years, it was named Britain’s National Science Week. It is now known as ‘British Science Week’.

Here what the students are seeing is a picture of an old coffee house from London. In early modern Europe, the establishment of the Royal Society, London was a crucial event in science communication history. London’s coffee houses played a pivotal role in this context. Royal Society was known for its weekly public lecture and demonstration, curated by the curator of experiments, Robert Hooke. The coffee house was the meeting place for Hooke with vendors, science enthusiasts, intellectuals in London and students to discuss experiments.

The enlightened tower (Western Science) displaying images of Telescope, Compass and Steam Engine (from top to bottom) —-as symbols of scientific achievements from the West. The tower on the righthand side is showing scientific achievements in the east. The images are demonstrating the number system in Indian Mathematics from the Gupta era, the view of the eye based on a diagram according to Hunayn Bin-Ishaq, and Ginkgo leaves in traditional Chinese medicine.

  • Indian numeric system: https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Projects/Pearce/chapter-8/
  • Islamic drawing on eye: Unal N and Elcioglu O, Anatomy of the eye from the view of Ibn Al-Haitham (965-1039): The founder of Modern Optics. Saudi Med J 2009; Vol. 30 (3)
  • Gingko leaves as ancient medicine: Crane PR, An evolutionary and cultural biography of ginkgo. DOI: 10.1002/ppp3.7

The students here are discussing the artwork made by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797). Joseph Wright painted the scene to celebrate the beginning of a new era of science through public engagement in the Royal Society.

Here scientific practices in the ancient and medieval world have been illustrated. Leftmost panel: Astronomy in the medieval Islamic world; Upper panel: Smallpox inoculation in ancient China; Rightmost panel: Soap making in ancient Babylon; Lower panel: Wheel of Chariot making in ancient Mesopotamia; Middle panel: Irrigation in ancient Egypt.

  • Right Upper row: Astronomical drawing from the medieval Islamic world (inspired from Al-Biruni’s astronomical works)
  • Left upper row: An impression of 18th Century Persian Astrolabe
  • Rightmost panel of lower row: Anatomical drawings by Avicenna (14th Century CE)
  • Middle panel1: Egyptian hieroglyphs; Middle panel 2: Symbols used in Bahr Al Hayat (Life of Ocean)
  • Left most panel of lower row: Mesopotamian clay tablet.

To know about Bahar Al-Hayat please see: A Case Study of Bahr al-hayat, lecture by Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Here an aboriginal Australian storyteller is telling stories about nature and earth to a modern-day audience. The card has been drawn with the philosophy that the people in the audience are imagining, analyzing and understanding the concept of nature and earth in such a way that aboriginal people visualize – through dot paintings (one of the famous styles used by aboriginal artists).

Both in card 24 and card 25 the portraiture of the storyteller and the artworks has been done following famous aboriginal artists and storytellers, the Nakamarra sisters (Elizabeth Marks Nakamarra and Nellie Marks Nakamarra).

Words from a Black history rap have been used with visual setting of Griot’s performance.

Unique public performances like ventriloquism (in the image) and puppet shows played a pivotal role in public engagement to eradicate diseases like smallpox and polio in India, but their role is mostly undocumented.