Scientists need the media in order to change things, Prof. Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said on Wednesday at the opening of a science/media conference on campus.
The fourth conference on the subject was organized by the Technion and the Israel Academy for Science and the Humanities 100 years after the cornerstone laying of the Haifa institute.
Lavie, a senior psychologist whose specialty is sleep medicine, said that many studies he conducted aroused interest in the press and brought about changes. For example, Summer Time was restored in Israel after interior ministers prevented it for years; zero hour classes in the schools were canceled when he found the early hour caused tiredness and was harmful to health; and that many road accidents occurred on Shabbat when drivers fell asleep at the wheel between 3 and 5 a.m.
The Technion president said that when he appeared on the Erev Hadash TV news show at the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1990 to set up a “silent radio channel” so that people could be awakened to put on their gas masks in the event of an attack, the idea was adopted that same night.
Welcoming the many participants to the campus, Lavie said that “science in Israel is flowering, but having a connection with the public is vital. It is very important to bring the word of science” to the people, he added. There is no shortage of scientific publications, but “the link that connects science and the public remains weak.”
Dr. Ayelet Baram-Tsabari, of the Technion’s technology and science teaching department, said that 100 years ago, the “language war” between Hebrew and German was won, and it was shown that it was possible and important to teach science in Hebrew. Today we talk about talking about science in comprehensible Hebrew.”
Baram-Tsabari concluded that it was necessary to deal with science communications and that science requires transparency.
“The public have the right to understand and know what is being done with their tax money. Science is important in decision- making in one’s personal life, and it is an intellectual asset. The people must understand science to increase public support for it as well as to attract the future generation of scientists,” she concluded.