Scientoonics: Communicating science through cartoons

Ranjeet Kumar:

Communicating science in the language of the masses has been a challenging endeavor for science communicators. It becomes difficult to conceptualize the complexity that is inherent in science down to a medium where the content makes an audacious impact. It is an undesirable situation to know that verbal or audiovisual medium are unable to engage the common man. Such dissipation of scientific knowledge seems to be an esoteric phenomenon, quite limited to the specialist or peers and it does not seem to penetrate the grey matter of the common man.

Pradeep K. Srivastava, the "Scientoon man"

This problem needed an innovative solution and what was born was an entirely new discipline that was christened as Scientoonics. The man behind the genesis of the discipline also the father of scientoons is P.K. Srivastava a senior scientist at Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow. He is a man who needs no introduction; he has a multifaceted personality and is an excellent communicator. Scientoons are expression of scientific knowledge in the language of cartoons. It can be precisely defined as the cartoons, based on various scientific concepts. They are witty and informative and cover a broad spectrum of subject areas presented in an understandable and interesting but more importantly in a thought-provoking way. The structure of scientoons is very simple on the left hand side there is the description of a scientific fact or concept and on the right hand side there is a scientoon, and at the bottom of which a witty quote follows. With the help of these scientoons he has been able to put hard scientific concepts in a pictographic manner that appeal to the thought process of the audience. His efforts have been recognized widely and have fetched him numerous awards. It is his tedious effort that scientoonics has been recognized as a separate discipline and many universities have added it in their science communication syllabus. He has been propagating this idea through various forums and has lectured across the globe more than 700 times.

His audience ranges from school going children to highly learned scientists and even noble laureates. He with his charismatic personality and innovative thought process and presentation style has transformed the way we look at science. Time is not far away when we will have newer disciplines like scienanimatics branching out from scientoonics enabling us to reach an ever wider audience.

The writer is a research scholar by profession working at CDRI Lucknow, a freelancer and poet by passion.

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