Of the Top 10 Italian Scientists in 2010 (as listed according to their H-index by VIAcademy), four are living in Italy, five are resident in the United States and the remaining one in France. While statistics such as the H-index are debatable, many show quite clearly how the boundaries of Italy extend beyond the geographical nation to wherever in the world Italians have chosen to live, work or study. This hints at something that goes well beyond the old categories of brain gain and brain drain.
As researchers, scientists, inventors and innovators, the Italians of today are making an active contribution across the world, participating in the global quest for cultural, scientific and technological progress. Simply put, they sometimes operate within the national boundaries, sometimes outside them.
Their achievements are shown in L’Italia Dov’è, a project developed for the Festival della Scienza on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Italian unity. A series of visualizations prompt a reflection on the boundaries of Italy from multiple perspectives. Where do Italians live? What have they contributed to the world’s progress? Where are Italy’s greatest strengths? What do they say about life at home and abroad?
Cutting across these questions reveals a country that, far from being a “geographical expression”, as Prince Metternich once put it in the 19th century, now transcends its traditional boundaries in its global contribution to the arts and sciences.
L’Italia Dov’è, a project of the Festival della Scienza, curated by Carlo Ratti Associati – photos by Pietro Leoni
This project was the first I managed while working at Carlo Ratti Associati. Thanks to the data from ISTAT (Istituto Nazionale di Statistica and Autostrada Italia), the visualizations by Ian Ardouin-Fumet, design by Andrea Cassi and Pietro Leoni, and the support from Codice. Idee per la cultura and Luca De Biase, it was exhibited at the Palazzo della Borsa, Genova, as part of the Festival della Scienza 2011.
Blurring the Borders: The expansion of Italian influence, driven by the migration of people and ideas, is shown here in the dematerialization of the Italian borders. From the flux of Italian doctors to Brazil in the late 19th century, to the emigration of scientists and thinkers from post-war Europe, the fluid motion of people over the last 150 years reveals the historical trends and continuing relationship of Italian communities with specific countries. By blurring the borders we uncover a country that is growing beyond its boundaries.
Nobel Track: Considering the careers of the highest-impact Italian researchers, and in this instance Italian Nobel laureates specifically, it is possible to trace their dynamic biographies and visualize Italian research and creativity living and growing across international borders. The places in which Italian Nobel laureates have worked, can be a valuable tool to understand where have been, over the years, the places endowed with Italian scholarship, and underlines in particular the strong European – US exchange of knowledge.
Italy in the Global Web: This map shows Italy at the centre of the web of patents and publications produced in collaboration with foreign scientists and innovators, illustrating the role of the country’s scientific research at the global level through its connections and collaborations with major research centers worldwide. The stronger the thread, the greater the collaboration. Publications are quantified using the H-index, which attempts to measure both the productivity and impact of the work for the individual or country in question.