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Italian Doctoral Student Uses Manga & Anime to Teach Astronomy & Physics

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

A Ph.D student at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden is bringing science to the masses with the help of popular anime and manga. Daria Dall'Olio launched the "Manga Constellation" (Costellazione Manga) outreach project with fellow enthusiasts Alessandro Montosi and Piero Ranalli in 2011. The project is focused on astronomy outreach and engages the public on everything from the basics of outer space to astrophysics using examples from Galaxy Express 999, Saint Seiya, Fist of the North Star, and Sailor Moon.

"We take the cue from realistic comics to illustrate the harsh reality of space travel," Dall'Olio wrote. "Conversely, we use works with a more fantastic perspective to introduce general topics: the difference between stars, planets, and galaxies, the possibility of finding life on other planets. We also describe how the same stars are perceived differently by different cultures."

Dall'Olio took her work with her to Fukuoka, Japan at the "Communicating Astronomy with the Public" conference organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in March.

Manga Constellation presentations focus on using popular series as a segue into current astronomy topics. For example, a presentation might introduce Starblazers and how space travel is depicted in the series before discussing what is currently known about the planets in and outside our solar system. Presentations might also dispel science presented in a series, like the existence of a planet near the star Vega where UFO Robo Grendizer supposedly originates. Sorry guys, but scientists haven't found any planets orbiting Vega.

Manga Constellation will also discuss topics presented in less well-known but potentially more accurate sci-fi shows like Planetes and 2001 Nights.

Dall'Olio is also using Manga Constellation to get people outdoors and and observing the stars. She is a licensed guide of the natural environment and offers Manga Constellation lectures in natural parks where participants can not only learn about anime, manga, astronomy, and physics but also observe the heavens in a natural habitat.

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