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Every time we communicate our science, we are involuntarily involved in an educational activity, affecting the listeners’ methodology and motivation. In a beautiful metaphor, late Nobel Laureate, Richard E. Smalley compared interacting atoms and molecules to boys and girls falling in love. Elaborated and exemplified with a couple of entertaining analogies in this discourse is the effectiveness of the use of metaphors in illustrating scientific concepts to both scientific novices and peers. Human brain has been considered to be a complex neural circuitry for the computation of metaphors, which explains the naturalness of their usage, especially when solid arguments could be given in support of the thesis that scientific imagery in general presents a collection of mathematically operable metaphors. On top of this, knowledge could be enriched through logic alone, but new concepts could be learned only through analogies. The greater pervasion of metaphors in scientific presentations could boost their inspirational potential, make the audience more attentive and receptive to their contents, and, finally, expand their educational prospect and enable their outreach to a far broader audience than it has been generally accomplished.


This article was originally published in Journal of Materials Education, volume 36, issue 1-2, in 2014.


International Council on Materials Education



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