Ten years ago the Provincial Administration of Milan endorsed a proposal by the Istituto di Fisica Generale Applicata of Milan’s University about organizing a show on the history and evolution of scientific thought through films and videos from all over the world.
The immediate success of that event led us to extend it to one whole week and to complement it with new and original sections and proposals. Carlo Rubbia and Rita Levi Montalcini have been among our guests, and the Festival has become one of the most prominent events of its kind in Italy - so much so that every year it is duplicated, albeit with a few changes, in other major cities like Bari, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Parma and Pavia.
Originally targeted for teachers and students, over the years the show has been visited by a broad and diversified audience, increasingly interested in the discoveries and innovation resulting from scientific research at a pace which would have been unimaginable just a few decades ago, and which make the headlines in the papers and TV news almost on a daily basis.
Scientific research is unquestionably moving much faster than in the past, both because the potential of technology is now greater and because research labs are no longer limited to a handful of countries.
The fall of some political barriers has allowed scientists from all over the world to share their studies and discoveries across borders that used to be impassable. In this way, through comparison and debate, scientific achievements have picked up a faster pace in all sectors of research and especially in the medical field, thanks to the use of nanotechnologies.
And this is perhaps the area of scientific analysis that draws our attention most, at least for the implications these discoveries might have for the treatment of some incurable diseases but also for the moral impact some studies can have.
In the past few editions, the Festival has hosted a new section devoted to the biographies of some prominent scientists and to the films of great directors, such as Rossellini, Tarkosvky and Losey this year, who thought it fit to devote a part of their work to the scientific debate and to some milestones of the world of science in order to further stress the value of freedom of thought as a prerequisite for any democratic society.