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Comfortably Numb3d by Numb3rs



Mira A.



‘Mathematics is the gate and key of the sciences. Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since he who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or the things of this world’ (R. Bacon, 1266, Opus Majus).


Comfortably Numb3d by Numb3rs is the continuation and valorization of the project already funded by the SNSF Agorà: Numb3d by Numb3rs.

The main objectives of the proposal are:

1. keeping Numb3d by Numb3rs open in Lugano for two additional years,

2. add contents related to the numbers/data generated by the coronavirus pandemic to enhance awareness and understanding,

3. add a station related to the concept of Population pyramids,

4. translate Numb3d by Numb3rs in English and German to increase its visibility.

5. create the instructions to clone Numb3d by Numb3rs in other Cantons or Countries.

The main motivations are:

1. the success of Numb3d by Numb3rs among students, teachers, families and in general also adult visitors,

2. the requests to show the exhibit to a not Italian speaking public that I have received from the Swiss Statistical Society and from The Federation of the European National Statistical Societies,

3. the coronavirus pandemic that has further stressed the importance of data literacy,

4. the fact that I recently wrote a successful book on the “coronadata” pandemic (see references) and have extensively done research related to "-19 that I would like to disseminate more widely among the general public. The book is the Winner of the 6th edition of “The Amerigo Four Freedoms Award” and is the finalist in the “Italian National Popular Science Award 2021”.

Comfortably Numb3d by Numb3rs is thus well placed in the context of my most recent research and of the coronavirus pandemic. It also answers the needs to enhance numerical and data literacy expressed by schools, teachers and statistical societies. Finally, when cloned in other Cantons and Countries, Comfortably Numb3d by Numb3rs will contribute to give visibility to a successful project supported by SNSF.

To achieve the above mentioned goals I have involved L'ideatorio, the science communication service of the Università della Svizzera italiana, which had already worked on the original Numb3d by Numb3rs project, together with other professionals, some of whom had already been involved in the previous exhibitions (such as the Società Matematica della Svizzera Italiana – SMASI – and the Scuola Cantonale di Commercio di Bellinzona), for the preparation and sharing of materials. The team of communicators of L’ideatorio has been popularizing science for years in Ticino and abroad, they have created tools, built competencies and a network of contacts with mass media and scientific institutions.

The simplicity of the layout, the effectiveness and relevance of the content presented, the number of people who have so far visited Numb3d by Numb3rs and participated in the side events have encouraged me to invest more time and energy in this communication and numerical/data literacy project. In addition, seeing how appreciated and useful it was for a school and for teachers to have had the possibility to use the material and the storytelling methods created for Numb3d by Numb3rs, integrating them into their own educational paths, has encouraged me to work on making the contents open and easily shareable by everyone. The hope is that the work we are going to do in this direction will be enthusiastically received and serve as an example for other communication projects.

And if Bacon’s words were true at the time, they are even truer today: the “corona data” have proved this even more clearly and showed the central role played by mathematics, probability and statistics in our society and in the life of every individual.

Additional information

Start date
End date
12 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Agora