MATHEMATICAL STORYTELLING AND COVID-19. MADDMATHS: AN ITALIAN CASE STUDY ON THE AWARENESS OF THE ROLE OF MATHEMATICAL MODELS IN COMMUNICATING THE SARS-COV-2 EPIDEMIC

S. Benvenuti1, D. Gouthier2

1Università di Bologna (ITALY)
2Scienza Express edizioni (ITALY)
In winter 2020, the Covid-19 emergency explodes. From the earliest days, the Italian online magazine MaddMaths, devoted to teaching and popularizing mathematics, decides to focus its attention on the mathematical aspects of the Sars-CoV-2 epidemic. The editorial choice is not to propose data and graphics but to publish articles for reflection, analysis, and dissemination on mathematical models as interpretative and political decision tools. Understanding the epidemic in order to combat it, is a scientific citizenship issue: citizens must have the tools to understand what is happening.

In this article, we analyse how MaddMaths and its readers interacted during the first year of Covid-19. We apply textual analysis methodologies and techniques to more than two articles per month that MaddMaths has dedicated to an in-depth study of the mathematical aspects of Covid-19. And then we do a quantitative analysis to understand the interest they have found in the public.

In contrast to the belief that the Internet is the place for fast and superficial communication, the existence of readers interested in deepening and understanding the mechanisms, including mathematical ones, of an epidemic, emerges. Although MaddMaths does not usually cover health issues, its audience appreciated that the magazine has focused much of its work on communication. Communicating the mathematical models of a pandemic is a relevant form of health prevention. Understanding how Covid-19 evolves means learning to manage the risks associated with the Sars-CoV-2 virus.