The Descartes prize is for outstanding results in science communication and aims to improve public understanding of scientific research.
The 23 projects from 10 different countries nominated for the 2005 Descartes Science Communication Prize span a wide variety of areas - books, TV magazines and documentaries, interactive events, multimedia products, press columns, multimedia animations, etc. The common factor is their ability to communicate complex scientific issues to a wide public.
Among last year's finalists were scientists, authors, broadcasters and science journalists who succeeded in presenting science in innovative, entertaining ways. Winners included excellent communicators such as the UK's David Attenborough and Germany's Professor Wolfgang M. Heckl. This year's competition is also very tough – indicative of the high standard is the inclusion of Bill Bryson, one of the world's top-selling authors and author of a recent best-selling work popularising the history of the development of scientific knowledge.
This year, five winners and five finalists will share the € 275,000 prize. The winners and finalists will be announced in London on 2 December 2005.
The IPF's nomination recognises its achievement in creating animations that help youngsters (and the wider public) to understand climate change as it affects the polar regions and the globe as a whole. The IPF collaborated with scientists and communicators from different nations in order to strike a balance between offering sound scientific advice and making the subject matter understandable and fun to watch. Now being widely disseminated to educators, these animations were developed in French in 2003 and have since been made available in 6 languages (with 5 more on the way). The animations are currently available free of charge online and on CD-ROM.
These animations will be one of the features of the new version of the Educapoles website, due mid-October 2005.