Sometimes, Japanese anime can defy the laws of physics, from normal-yet-tsundere high school girls uppercutting the male protagonist across an entire city, to mysterious beams of light appearing out of nowhere to censor some naked characters, and even breasts bouncing around for now reason… complete with sound effects. However, that didn’t stop a PhD student from Italy from using anime to teach people about Physics, as well as Astronomy.
Daria Dall’Olio is a student aiming for a doctorate over at the Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden. She’s an anime fan, and together with fellow enthusiasts, Alessandro Montosi and Piero Ranalli, they launched a science outreach program called Costellazione Manga back 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.”
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recently took Dall’Olio and her program to Japan. There, she made a presentation at the “Communicating Astronomy with the Public” conference in Fukuoka.
The project usually focuses on using popular anime series to talk about current astronomy topics. An example would be that they use anime like Space Battleship Yamato and how space travel is depicted in the series before talking about what is currently known about the planets in and outside our solar system. However, their presentations do debunk some of the things from the anime themselves. For example, the existence of a planet near the star Vega where UFO Robo Grendizer supposedly originates isn’t real as scientists haven’t found any planets orbiting Vega. And yes, you can’t breathe on the surface of the moon like Sailor Moon and the Sailor Senshii did.
This anime fan is also using her project to promote people going outdoors and and observing the stars. In fact, she’s also a licensed guide of the natural environment. She often offers Costellazione Manga lectures in natural parks where she not only talks about anime, but science as well.
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