Kalinga Prize 2000
The 2000 Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science will be awarded to:
Ernst Wolfgang Hamburger of Brazil
in a ceremony organized by UNESCO and the Kalinga Foundation Trust
in New Delhi, India, in February 2001
Born in Germany in 1933, Professor Hamburger emigrated with his parents to Brazil three years later. He joined the faculty of the University of São Paulo in 1960 as full professor of physics.
An unflagging commitment to science popularization
Today, Professor Hamburger is Director of Estação Ciência (ehamburger(at)eciencia.usp.br), a Brazilian science centre which is part of a UNESCO-supported network for science popularization entitled RedPop – Rede de Popularização das Ciências da América Latina e Caribe. This network has its own Science Popularization Prize (see www.ciencias.unal.edu.co/), which Estação Ciência won in 1997.
Professor Hamburger is acting chairman of the new Brazilian Association of Science Centres and Museums (ABCMC - Associação Brasileira de Centros e Museus de Ciências).
Professor Hamburger’s interest in physics education and science popularization dates back to the 1960s when he launched a curriculum development project and set up a laboratory offering demonstration experiments to schools that would later serve as the model for exhibitions organized for the general public by the Physics Institute.
In this brief overview of his distinguished career, we shall concentrate only on his extensive activities to popularize science in Brazil.
Since the 1970s, Professor Hamburger has published articles sporadically on physics and science popularization in the principal newspapers of São Paulo. In 1992 and 1993, journalists themselves became the focus of his activities when he turned his hand to teaching an extracurricular course on science popularization for journalists at the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo.
Professor Hamburger was a member of the coordinating committee for a series on the secondary school curriculum in 1976 produced by the educational television station of the state of São Paulo, TV Cultura; he was responsible for the programmes on physics.
In 1984, he published O Que é Fisica?, a popularization book describing the beginning of physics from observation of celestial bodies, the Copernican revolution, theories of heat, electricity and light, quantum physics, electrons in solids, relativitity theory, atomic nuclei and elementary particles, astrophysics and physics research in Brazil. Over the years, the book has stimulated many a vocation in physics among young readers.
In 1986, during the nearest approach of Halley’s Comet, Professor Hamburger and faculty at the University of São Paulo organized an exhibition on the physics and astronomy involved which attracted some 70,000 people over a period of months. Encouraged by the exhibition’s success and that of another larger exhibition on the theme of energy mounted at the São Paulo Museum of Technology in 1987 and financed by the state electricity company (CESP), Professor Hamburger maintained a permanent exhibition at the University of São Paulo between 1988 and 1994 of interactive physics experiments on superconductivity, mechanics, thermodynamics, nuclear physics, supernovae, astronomy and cosmology; the exhibition was visited mostly by school pupils.
1994 proved to be a turning point in Professor Hamburger’s career as a science popularizer. It was the year the National Research Council of Brazil bestowed on him the Premio José Reis de Divulgação Científica rewarding the best science popularizer in the country.
It was also the year he took up the post of Director of Estação Ciência, a science centre founded in 1987 by the National Research Centre which has been part of the University of São Paulo since 1990. Over the past six years, Professor Hamburger has succeeded in increasing the budget of Estação Ciência and obtaining grants from agencies and businesses which have enabled him to extend both the activities of the centre and their audience.
Most Estação Ciência exhibitions are inspired by research done in the University of São Paulo. After being shown at Estação Ciência, the exhibitions often travel to other science centres, universities and schools around the country. Interestingly, Estação Ciência uses an interdisciplinary approach, calling on collaborators from the humanities, biological and exact sciences for the different exhibitions.
Examples of exhibitions are:
- the Zumbi dos Palmares exhibition, named after a hero of the resistance to slavery among the population of African origin in Brazil who was killed in 1695 (Anthropology Department, USP);
- The Xavantes of Mato Grosso. A group from this native tribe built a typical hut at Estação Ciência and talked to visitors about their daily life (Anthropology Museum);
- Medieval Castles (History Department, USP);
- Architecture and City Planning in São Paulo and other Cities (18th and 19th centuries) (Architecture and Urbanism School);
- History of Highway Transport (Architecture and Urbanism School);
- Marine Biology. Live fishes and invertebrates in aquaria and preserved speciments in oil (Zoology Department, USP);
- Urban Birds (Zoology Department, USP);
- Cosmic Ray Electronic Telescope (Physics Department, USP);
- Atmospheric Electric Discharges (National Space Research Institute);
- Magic Lantern – Origins of Cinema (Cinema Department, USP);
- History of Physics (multiple exhibitions).
Science for street children
In 1996, Estação Ciência launched a project for street children known as Projeto Clicar, sponsored by the national petroleum company, Petrobras. Educators teach street children to read and write, and prepare them to go to school or return to school. All of the centre’s exhibits are used for the purpose but the core of the work involves computers, which the children learn to operate. The children are free to come and go as they please. Their numbers had grown to 600 by 1999. The project has attracted considerable media interest.
Among the science videos co-produced by Estação Ciência, one might mention a series of ten attractive and amusing one-minute clips entitled Minuto Científico exploring such themes as black holes, what are we made of? and relativity theory. Co-produced with TV Cultura, Minuto Científico has been awarded prizes at several national and international festivals. Other videos include Visões de Liberdade, a 30-minute video inspired by the Estação Ciência exhibition on the origins of Brazil’s African population and produced by TV Culltura; and Cosmic Radiation, a 25-minute video for classroom use co-produced by the Physics Institute and Communications School of the University of São Paulo.
Since 1996, Estação Ciência has also hosted a yearly international scientific video show sponsored by Petrobras and the Banco do Bresil.
For further information, write to:
1, rue Miollis,
Tel. (33.0) 18.104.22.168.17
Fax. (33.0) 22.214.171.124.27