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On its surface, the exhibit consists of a simple office, a number of PCs, and a flashy banner – the bobbling hula-dancer kitsch on the desk a testament to the eccentric nature of both the display and concept. SCIANCE is what you put into it, an interface between yourself and the potentially infinite cadre of scientists and non-scientists conversing with you via the web. Post a question, any question, and allow idle banter and informed discussion to drive the query toward an answer.
Martin Kersels, a multi-talented artist and co-director of the art program at the California Institute of the Arts collaborated with Peter Schröder, a professor of computer science and applied and computational mathematics at Caltech, to create the database forum where science questions meet scientific – and unscientific – answers. Communication is the goal, a transcendence of preconceptions and jargon, where discourse is king.
The word sciance etymologically combines science and séance (in this case referring to a deliberative body assembled for discussion).