2006 Recipient: Television

AAAS Science Journalism Awards

2006 Recipient: Television

Samuel Fine, Julia Cort, Vincent Liota, Peter Doyle and Dean Irwin
NOVA scienceNOW
A program on RNA interference, the chemistry of fuel cells, two wizards of supercomputing, and the fastest moving glacier in the world.
26 July 2005

Geneticists wanted to make an ordinary purple petunia more purple. Instead they got white flowers. Why? Quite by accident, the researchers found a secret defense system in living cells, a gene-silencing mechanism called RNA interference. It has become one of the hottest topics in biology and was the subject of the recently awarded 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology. In addition to the RNAi segment, the NOVA scienceNOW program, presented by Robert Krulwich, also featured a humorous description of the chemistry of fuel cells, complete with electrons attached to the posteriors of “Car Talk” hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi; a segment on two Brooklyn brothers whose expertise in supercomputing produced a complex digital analysis of the thread patterns in a unicorn tapestry from the collection of the Cloisters Museum in New York; and a look at a glacier in Greenland that is the fastest moving in the world.

Allan Butler of The Science Channel said the winning program used “great analogies that take complex material and make it easy for the lay public to understand.” It described science, he said, in “an entertaining, thoughtful and, at times, wonderfully playful manner.” Christine Dell’Amore of United Press International said the RNAi segment “offers a rare look into a type of medical research not often covered in the mainstream media, and gives a sense of hope about eradicating the worst of diseases.”