• Antonio G Valdecasas

      Articles written in Journal of Biosciences

    • Understanding complex systems: lessons from Auzoux's and von Hagens's anatomical models

      Antonio G Valdecasas Ana M Correas Carmen R Guerrero Jesús Juez

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      Animal and human anatomy is among the most complex systems known, and suitable teaching methods have been of great importance in the progress of knowledge. Examining the human body is part of the process by which medical students come to understand living forms. However, the need to preserve cadavers has led to the development of various techniques to manufacture models for teaching purposes. A variety of materials, such as wax, wood, papier-mâché, or glass, have long been used to construct animal and plant models. In the case of the human body, the most innovative, yet controversial, method of preservation has been plastination, invented by the German physician Gunther von Hagens, by which actual human bodies are preserved as odourless and aesthetic models for teaching and exhibitions. We point out in our study that the ‘hands-on’ approach that some anatomical models allow, namely, the (clastic) disassembly and reassembly of the parts of complex systems and their models, is not only a crucial tool for learning, but is far superior to the simple passive observation that rigid, single-piece models allow. And what is valid for the learning of anatomy can be generalized to the acquisition of knowledge of other complex physical systems.

    • Science literacy and natural history museums

      Antonio G Valdecasas Ana M Correas

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      It appears that developed countries, such as the US, the UK and Italy, are losing the race against irrationalism and arbitrary thinking in regard to nature and human interactions. The incidence of misguided beliefs and the detachment from and, in some cases, outright hostility toward science are on the rise. Paradoxically, this is probably the period in the history of advanced countries in which increasing public and personal efforts have been directed toward the dissemination of scientific knowledge to increase public understanding of science. This article vindicates the role of natural history museums in consolidating rational and critical scientific thinking while briefly examining scientific illiteracy in developed countries. It also discusses methods to improve the involvement of natural history museums in the promotion of rational thinking, the only appropriate avenue for objective knowledge.

    • Commentary: There is no common ground between science and religion

      Antonio G Valdecasas Luis Boto Ana Maria Correas

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