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The Science of Carnival, or Visa-Versa
Alex Steffen, 19 Feb 04

Every year, Rio's carnival parade is themed. Riffing off that theme, the various samba schools and neighborhood groups spend all year competing fiercely to come up with costumes, floats and performances which will set them apart. Then the whole city basically explodes into one big street party, throughout which flows that year's theme.

This year's theme? Science. These Brazilians are up to something, I tell you.

Here's how one of the planners puts it:

Why did you decide to make science a carnival theme?

"The need to popularise science stems from the fact that most ordinary people do not enjoy their encounters with the subject. ... When we talk about popularising science, we are proposing a dialogue, and that demands an interchange between ordinary people and the scientific community. ... We need to be brave about promoting such interchange, and not too concerned about the differences between the academic and popular worlds. In our view, any popular cultural event offers an opportunity to establish such a dialogue. And the Rio carnival is clearly an event with huge impact, both nationally and internationally."

If anyone's going, I'd love to see your pictures (or if anyone finds good ones online, let us know)!

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Funny, this year's Burning Man theme is science, too. (Well, astronomy & astrophysics, specifically.) Wonder if these kids are comparing notes.

Posted by: Jer on 7 Apr 04



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