Copy of an announcement in "Nature Jobs," as it appeared yesterday, for a research project managed by the University of Florence. This page has been subsequently removed, but the stain on the reputation of Italian research remains.
This story is doing the rounds in the Italian web. Our Ministry of research (MIUR) had published on their site the translation of the title of a European Research project dedicated to cheese. The cheese they study is called "pecorino" (literally "sheep-cheese") which has a certain assonance with the term used in Italian ("pecorina") for what in English is called "doggy style". Now, some idiot translated it exactly that way: "doggy style"! For a while, that translation was featured also on the "Nature" web site. Later on, it was removed from both pages, but you can still read it for your amusement in the picture above (see also below and here)
All that is on a par with the story of the "neutrino tunnel", also from our ministry of research where, among other idiocies, it was said that neutrinos generated in Switzerland would travel in a tunnel all the way to Italy. You can read about this story here.
This epic fail of MIUR may be a little off topic for the "Cassandra" blog, but perhaps not so much. If nothing else, it shows how rapidly a university system can decay when it is left with no attention and no money. Maybe Italy is on the forefront in the world in terms of decadence, but I am sure that all countries have the same problem: how to sustain their research and university teaching systems with declining resources. It is, in the end, another symptom of the effects of having overexploited our resources. We passed the peak in many areas, we should not be surprised to be seeing also "Peak Research"
Here is also, conserved for posterity, the announcement as it appeared on the Italian ministry of research (MIUR) web site
And also here on the site of the European Commission