Paola Catapano has been working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) since she was 26 years old: “Nobel Prize winners consider me a colleague, because I know these topics well enough to be able to talk about them in a ‘popular’ way.” A journalist and scientific researcher, she left in 2005 on her first expedition into the wild. Many have followed her and today (at 4.30 pm) at the “Pari e dispari” festival she will talk about one of the most important ones, the presentation of “Ottantesimo Parallelo” (Salani, 2023) the book of the “mission” that (re)brought her to the North Pole.
In the book he talks about Polarquest 2018. Why did you define it as an “adventure between science and ice”?
“Because it was a real adventure, it was a citizen science expedition, organized at the initiative of citizens. Polar expeditions are usually carried out by research bodies, in consortia. I have been involved in many of them, as a science journalist, but this is the time when this journey began.” From me: I saw an opportunity to go and search for the remains of the Nobel airship from 1928 and put together this expedition. I sacrificed two years of my life, raised 500 thousand euros of funds and brought 5 science projects on board. It is something you do once in a lifetime.”
She is, in her own way, a learned woman and much has been written about it. But “Otantissimo Paralelo” is different from its predecessors…
“I have always had a passion for nature and adventures. This time the editor was clear: ‘I don’t want to divulge, tell me why you decided to do this initiative.’ For me, this question was never asked, ‘It was natural. In the end, I told the feelings that I and my companions felt, which is personal about the expedition but told from a human point of view. The result is a book for everyone, similar to a novel.”
And the environmental issue?
“The Arctic is melting so the message I wanted to get across is also the importance of changing the way we live with nature. The science is there but this place must be protected. There is a lot to do, the damage done to our planet. The environment is clear. In my opinion the drawback is one: an experience like this makes you Understand that you are not the dominant species but one among many, that you need an environment that is right for you and that your influence endangers all lives, not just your own.”
The main theme of the festival is “Women and Science”. The gender gap in this sector persists due to biases and stereotypes. How to break it?
“There have always been women in science. It is not a problem with the brain, DNA, genes or abilities. It is a social and cultural problem, due to the fact that for thousands of years women were not even allowed to go to school.” There are many measures underway to combat this phenomenon, because we are giving away half of the brains and science, being a collective process, it needs everyone. A lot of progress has been made, and now initiatives must be taken forward to enable women to access women’s roles. administration”.
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