Have you heard of Open Science and the idea of making science available to everybody? In this special interview with Terence Explorons we discuss the role that science is currently playing in society and why it’s important to encourage everybody to engage with it. You will also be introduced to “L’Exploratoire”, an incubator for Open Science projects founded by Terence together with Chloé Didier and get to know about some of its projects integrating science and culture.
This month Piplettes had the chance to meet and interview our fellow science communicator Terence Explorons, manager and co-founder with Chloé Didier of “L’Exploratoire”, an association that strongly believes in making science available to all people. When we first discovered “L’Exploratoire”, we became fascinated by its values, activities, and the links it creates between science and art. How could we not have a chat with its creators?
C: Terence, how did you and Chloé meet and come up with the idea of L’Exploratoire?
T: I strongly believe that all the great challenges of our current world, such as ecology, politics or health, come down to scientific questions that deserve to be explored with rigorous methods. Chloé and I decided to collaborate because we are both scientists with a strong will to share science. More precisely, we are very motivated to bring real projects to life and make promising ideas move forward.
C: What exactly is L’Exploratoire? What are the main missions of your project?
T: L’Exploratoire is an incubator for Open Science projects. Our missions can be summarized in three values which are Exploration, Experiment and Emergence. Exploratoire is about exploring knowledge and transforming it until new discoveries emerge. We hope to find new ways to share science, apply them to give equal opportunities to everybody, and to help the dialogue between science and society to create innovative solutions for tomorrow.
C: What activities do you organize?
T: We incubate scientific communication projects, we train students in science communication, and we make videos to popularize these concepts. We are currently in the process of creating a place for the public that will allow for scientific exchange.
C: What is Open Science?
T: As it is implied in the name, it means opening up science, making it accessible for everybody. It’s much more than just sharing science or even giving free access to publications. In my personal vision there are three steps to this concept:
Open science for scientists; which means giving free access to data and protocols to other scientists.
Give free access to the major scientific publications; not only to scientists, but also to the public.
Open science on a global scale; including the governments and the society.
Maybe this is a bit of a utopia, but I believe in it.
C: What’s the application of Open Science to society?
T: I think that everything can be addressed with a scientific question. So, if we open-up science we can intelligently use it for society and communicate to students that all the problems characterizing society can be linked to science.
C: What inspired you?
T: I’m a big fan of a study by Dan Kahan that guided me, entitled “Science curiosity and political information processing” 1. It explains how intelligence is not necessarily the best solution for building solutions for tomorrow. Intelligence can be used to polarize some ideas and even to push people to manipulate others. Fortunately, there is something more powerful than intelligence, that is scientific curiosity. It’s the possibility to amaze people before educating them.
C: How is it possible to raise the people’s curiosity about science?
T: To answer to this question, firstly I’ll give you an example of what we do at L’Exploratoire. I’d like to introduce an arts and science project called “Cell worlds” (cell-worlds.com) which is composed by wonderful and superb images of cellular microscopy projected in a digital art center to increase public awareness of the microscopic world. A broader answer to this question is that it’s necessary to target education and to teach young students what science is in order to develop their critical thinking.
C: When will we be able to see “Cell worlds”?
T: “Cell worlds” will be premiered in 2022 in Bordeaux in the “Bassins de Lumières”. It is a complex exhibition, so we still need some time to prepare it. When the project becomes public, we will also release a documentary to give to visitors detailing precise information about what they are seeing within the exhibition.
C: What are the main challenges that face science communication nowadays?
T: The main challenge that science is facing, apart from misinformation, is in education. If it is currently possible for fake news to spread and play with the opinions of the population, it’s because there is a lack of development in critical thinking which must be addressed in the early stages of education.
C: How can science be an artistic means? What’s the relationship between art and science?
T: Our current culture is totally forged by science: technological and engineering tools characterize all our lives and our understanding of society is made possible through cognitive science. One potential of science as an artistic means would be to use data, which are intrinsically artistic (from mathematical curves to microscopical images), as well as protocols and methods as forms of art.
C: Have you got a final thought to share with our readers?
T: Maybe my thoughts are utopian, but I’m really optimistic. If we believe in the best science communication, we can also bring others to share our ideas and make a true culture emerge around Open Science. This could push the politicians and society as a whole to also believe in science.
L’Exploratoire, together with the researchers of Institut Pasteur, are part of the Open Science movement and we strongly believe in the need to open up science to the society.
WEBSITE L’EXPLORATOIRE: https://www.lexploratoire.earth
1. Dan M. Kahan et al (2017). Science curiosity and political information processing. Political Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12396
This interview was copy edited by Dr. Marie Sabec. A special thank you to Terence Explorons.