October 4, 2022

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Farewell to Piero Angela, science made a TV star – Research and Institutions

Farewell to Piero Angela, the journalist who was able to make scientific publishing a revolutionary project, turning science into a primetime television star.

Born in Turin on December 22, 1928, Piero Angela was widely acclaimed: as well as on television, he disseminated and defended scientific knowledge in the many books he published in his long career. Besides his passion for science, that’s for music: he started playing the piano as a child, and at the age of twenty his passion for jazz turned him into “Peter Angela” in jazz clubs in Turin. He was very young even at the time of his first assignment to the Rai, collaborating as a correspondent for Radio Giornale. In 1954, with the arrival of television, he turned to the news, as he was a reporter from 1955 to 1968, first from Paris and then from Brussels. Returning to Italy, in 1968 he hosted the first edition of the 1.30pm newscast and in 1976 was the first TG2 presenter.

Meanwhile, his interest in science began to materialize as early as the end of the 1960s, with the production of documentaries devoted to space and especially to the Apollo race on the moon. Since then, science has risen to the height of its professional interests and, with simple and understandable language, light and pleasant in style and subtle in content, has created programs that have made publishing history with television. The series opened in 1971 with the title “The Male Destination,” followed by “From Zero to Three,” “Where’s the World Heading?” , “In the Darkness of the Years of Light”, “A Critical Investigation of Parapsychology” and “Neil Cosmos” In Search of Life”. The most successful and famous series of his career began in 1981: “Quark”, followed in 1995 by “Superquark”. Since 2000, he authored the book “Ulysses” with his son Alberto, with whom he authored several books.

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Science was not just a passion: Piero Angela was always convinced of its importance for the economy and society: “We know – he said – that science does not bring sounds, but the only way to change things is to develop scientific culture.” And he added with a lot of bitterness: “If we can convey, even partially, the criteria of selection and merit that we apply in football, we will be an exceptional country.”

His defense of rational thinking led him to oppose parapsychology, both on television broadcasts and in books, and as a promoter of Cicap (Italian Committee for the Control of Pseudoscience Claims), founded in 1989. Criticism practiced against every intellectual current is not based on rational arguments and evidence. . This happened when Piero Angela presented in 1989 results that contradict the controversial discovery of the “memory of water” by Frenchman Jacques Benveniste. Defending science also brought him to court, as when the Italian Association of Homeopathic Physicians accused him of defamation. The case was resolved in May 2004, with Piero Angela acquitted.

Baresi, the Italian flag owes him a lot
“Italy and Italian science owe a lot to Piero Angela,” said Giorgio Baresi, vice president of the National Academy in Linse and the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics. Empathy and intelligent communication skills to arouse the enthusiastic interest of many Italians and especially young people, many of whom have become scientists of an exceptional level,” said Noble. “She was someone who was very willing to fight for all the issues that I considered important: I remember her primary support for the ‘Save Research’ campaign “.

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Mass, bring everyone closer to science
“Piero Angela has proven and taught over the years the importance and beauty of bringing everyone, children, adults, experts and less, closer to science, research and its results, in a language accessible to all,” noted University and Research Minister Maria Cristina Mesa. “A legacy that we must cherish and continue to feed on a daily basis,” he added.

Carrozza (Cnr), Disclosure Pioneer
A predecessor, he made his commitment to communicate the fundamental value of science in society decades ago: this was above all the role of Piero Angela of the President of the National Research Council (Cnr), Maria Chiara Carosa, “as his work with Italians continues the importance of scientific literacy for a conscious and modern democracy.” For decades before the pandemic, the climate crisis and digital transformation have clearly demonstrated this”: Carusa notes.
“By his example – and he adds – he made us understand how good publishing should be not just obvious, but pleasant, compelling and effective. It’s a message that will remain essential not only for the many journalists and science reporters who follow in his footsteps,” but for us researchers. It is to him above all – concludes Carusa – that the scientific community of our country has abandoned the temptation of the ivory tower and is now closer to the needs of the people.”