The best of scientific culture – October-November 2020 – Québec Science

Here are the cultural proposals of our journalist: short films, books, podcast and sounds to get away from it all.


Night dreams in the region

The 5 courts project is a story of encounters. Meetings between artists and the regions of Quebec, encounters between image and sound. In this fourth edition, whose short films have the Bas-Saint-Laurent as a backdrop, we also have the right to an original tête-à-tête between science and art. With Night carousel, dreams of anonymous dreamers are juxtaposed with data on brain activity during a night’s sleep. On the lookout offers a soothing forest bath perfumed with a reflection on the influence of nature on humans. Snippets of conversationIt will be sunny tomorrow highlight the importance of weather in our lives and the uncertainty of its predictions, as we follow a Wall-E-like peat robot through Buttes. A sensory immersion to experience solo, the headphones screwed securely to your head.

Project 5 courts: Bas-Saint-Laurent, 4e editing, to watch for free on the NFB website,


Animated destinies

That’s it, the time has come to share with you this little gem that I cherish dearly and that I reserve for days devoid of rainbow. In each episode of the podcast Everything is Alive, a new object comes alive and shows life from its unique “point of view”. Thus, a stethoscope, a pregnancy test, a grain of sand, a bottle of cola pour out in turn the challenges of their daily life and their aspirations in quality improvisations. Everything is Alive is as entertaining as it is informative thanks to the surprising interviews which breathe new life into these vibrant anthropomorphic exchanges, delivered in the tone of confidence.

Everything is Alive, 20-30 minute episodes, In English.

Passport for sound escape

To vary the “soothing” hammering of roadwork and camouflage the “melodious” cry of your neighbor’s table saw, put a little countryside in your ears by offering yourself a (free!) Trip to the sound library of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. Thanks to the generous bank of duly titled samples, watch, with your eyes closed, the sunrise in the Norman cliffs, listen to the song thrush tell you a little and enjoy a well-deserved break near the torrents of an Alpine glacier . A round trip in the forests and French valleys just enough exotic for anyone who needs a change of scenery.

Sounds to download on the sound library of the National Museum of Natural History,


Fascinating beast

Humans, an animal like any other? In The true nature of the human beast, a reflection very “outside the box” on what intrinsically distinguishes it from the penguin or the deer, we see that this is far from the case. Author and professor emeritus of biology at Laval University, Cyrille Barrette, offers a captivating lecture in which he qualifies the principles of evolution and natural selection, dissects human nature and details our singularity. How are we so exceptional and unique? By our ability to furnish our life with “useless” things (loose: undertake a gourmet trip, wax your armpits, do ballet); our penchant for “harmful” and risky activities (from extreme sports to voluntary chastity, a way, when you think about it, to “miss your biological life”); or our ability to project ourselves into the future. Human uniqueness is displayed without judgment, and it is with great interest that we contemplate this composite portrait of us.

The true nature of the human beast, by Cyrille Barrette, Éditions MultiMondes, 320 p.

Little heroes of nature

Any parent will tell you: Children give us the opportunity to discover a wealth of things about subjects that we have rarely thought about – and yet deserve our attention. The documentary album Bees and earthworms shines its magnifying glass on two small beings essential to our survival: the beehive workers and the precious earthworms, whose shadow work is superbly brought to light. Each theme (seasons, reproduction, city life, actions to protect them) is illustrated on two pages: the bees dominate the upper half while the lower one plunges us into the underground network of earthworms. Using educational capsules that are sometimes quite pointed, we go into the small details as much as the mortality rate of worms during plowing (!) As we learn about the cocktail of substances that make up bee venom. The geek insects aged 8 to 12 (and over) will be asking for more.

Bees and earthworms, by Florence Thinard and Benjamin Flouw, Gallimard Jeunesse, 45 p.

A scientific method to teach

While current science and knowledge could address several ailments – such as retinal degeneration, decreased human fertility and many cancers linked to endocrine disruptors – French author and teacher-researcher Jean-Marie Vigoureux notes that However, we do not solve problems at the source, too interested that we are in the greed. And it is this commodification of science that he denounces in Diversion of science: being a scientist in the era of liberalism. With conviction and passion, he deplores that social justice is evacuated in favor of economic efficiency, going back to the beginnings of modern science to defend his thesis. It invites us to think ethically about the choices of the community in the face of environmental and social problems while brandishing the urgency of educating people in scientific and philosophical thinking in order to give ourselves the real means to make progress accessible to all.

Diversion of science: being a scientist in the era of liberalism, by Jean-Marie Vigoureux, Écosociété, 216 p.

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