'A clear magnetic light' - can metaphors help with scíentific models ESP? The case of gadolinium.

  • Marie-Hélène Fries Université Joseph Fourier - Grenoble I
Keywords: ESP, mapping, metaphor, model, science


Most English teachers in science and technology deal more easily with metaphors than with scientific models, especially if they are fraught with equations or figures. And yet, both models and metaphors are based on a transfer of meaning from one domain to another. The main question addressed in this article is whether metaphors can be used to help in making sense of models. To answer this question, an in-depth analysis of the models and conceptual metaphors found in a review article on gadolinium was carried out in comparison with a corpus of six “hot” articles published by the American Chemical Society. The results show that metaphors can indeed be used as a short-cut through theory, helping English teachers to grasp the main issues at stake. However, this vicarious knowledge always needs to be checked with an expert informant, just as the insights gained through models must be in agreement with experimental results.