Discovering the world through a voyage, whatever the mode of transportation, is a source of enrichment for those taking part in the voyage. What the travelers discover can, however, be shared more broadly using texts, images, sound or films.
A sailing trip on the world oceans confronts the crew with many sides of the planets: the sea, the sky, fauna, flora, landscapes. This is a prime opportunity to nourish our admiration and our curiosity about the world, to learn about the many sides of nature and how they interact; in a word, to practice science. Using a sailing cruise to share not only the beauty of the world, but also our knowledge of nature is the essence of “Science with Gaia”.
Gaia is a 50ft sailing boat under Swiss flag that we -Barbara and Thierry Courvoisier- will sail from France to the UK, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and then further probably along the East coast of America to the Pacific and beyond. We intend to sail several months per year for a number of years, following the seasons. We will discover the arctic seas as well as tropical and equatorial landscapes, we will be confronted to a large variety of meteorological conditions. We will see the sky at all latitudes. The islands and continents that we will approach have been formed by volcanism or other telluric mechanisms. Plants and animals on land and at sea will reveal many of the sides of life. All these domains and more are not only a source of admiration for their beauty, they are also the source of knowledge acquired in the course of centuries and decades. This knowledge includes descriptions of the objects seen in the night sky, but also astronomical navigation, descriptions and physiology of animals and plants and their adaptation to the land and climate they live with, evidence of volcanism and telluric phenomena, the understanding of the physics of the atmosphere and climate, to mention but a few topics. The beauty of what we will see and the knowledge associated is what we want to share with “Science with Gaia”.
“Science with Gaia” gathers a group of scientists knowledgeable about the many topics we will come in touch with, and a group of communication people. The first synthetize the knowledge available on the elements we come across while the second take these syntheses and prepare them for various audiences. Material is thus being prepared for primary schools -more than 200 classes have already signed up to follow this-, an exhibit is planned in Lausanne, a foundation will give a special prize including a week on board, secondary school teachers will access the material, matura (end of school) projects will use atmospheric measurements made on board. All these projects will use our sailing trip as guiding path through the material. The difficulties and pleasures of sailing will provide a human side to the science, thus illustrating vividly how knowledge acquisition is intimately linked with all the sides of human life; not only reason, but also emotions, efforts, joy and pain.
“Science with Gaia” is a mainly French language project, it is described on the site https://sy-gaia.ch/ and on the sites of the project participants.