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Television Media United States Science

Choose the New PBS Science Show 143

Posted by kdawson
from the new-nova dept.
chinmay7 writes "PBS has posted three different pilots for a new science show, and they want viewers to weigh in and help choose one as the regular science feature. All three pilots are viewable as vodcasts. Wired Science aired on January 3rd. The pilot certainly is polished, as one might expect from Wired Magazine, and deals with interesting topics: 'Meet rocket-belt inventors, stem cell explorers and meteorite hunters.' Science Investigators (air date: January 10) seems to be the most 'science' show: 'The investigators examine 30,000-year-old Neanderthal DNA, vanishing frogs, mind-boggling baseball pitches and more.' 22nd Century (air date: January 17) is pretty gimmicky and loud for my taste, but delivers interesting content — 'In the coming decades will all our brains be wired together like networked computers?' So watch and vote."
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Choose the New PBS Science Show

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  • by maynard (3337) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @06:57PM (#17515986) Journal
    All of these programs utilize the newsmagazine format, with three or four 15 - 20 minute minidocumentaries per program. Unfortunately, this is not enough time to delve into a subject indepth. Hell, an hour isn't enough time either. Nova is falling into the same trap, with their ScienceNOW programming. Is Nature and Frontline the last bastion of serious documentary programming on PBS?
    • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:01PM (#17516054)
      Sorry, you lost my attention when you failed to ask a question in your first two lines of text. Heck, you didn't even make your point until the second line -- what kind of person keeps reading after the first line doesn't have a point?

      (okay, I've turned the sarcasm tag off now)
      • by Anonymous Coward
        . .

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heck, you didn't even make your point until the second line -- what kind of person keeps reading after the first line doesn't have a point?
        Maybe you should get a higher-res widescreen monitor.
      • "Point? I have no point. I often have no point. It's part of my charm..."
        -- Chris Knight, Real Genius
    • by evilviper (135110)
      Nova is falling into the same trap, with their ScienceNOW programming. Is Nature and Frontline the last bastion of serious documentary programming on PBS?

      Clearly Nova is a complete write-off, because once a year they do a show that isn't up to your standards...
      • by maynard (3337) <j...maynard...gelinas@@@gmail...com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:09PM (#17516864) Journal
        Have you compared the NOVA that is broadcast today with what was originally done in the late seventies through the eighties? It has been a pretty dramatic dumbing down over the last few decades. Nature and Frontline, though, are just as good as ever. So... yeah: You summed it up pretty nicely.
        • It has been a pretty dramatic dumbing down over the last few decades.

          I call it the "Scientific American Syndrome". It sounds a lot better than the "Ignorant American Viewer Syndrome".

        • by Basehart (633304)
          Have you watched a 70's version of NOVA recently? I get your point, and would guess that it was a better show back then, but time can shave off lots of the fat leaving you with the impression there was more meat than there really was.

          As a child I used to watch a show called Tomorrow's World which, although dumbed down for kids like me (and parents like my parents), covered quite a lot of ground and went into quite a bit of detail. After seeing part of a recent show on YouTube (filmed shortly before the B
        • With the serial numbers filed off (and a new voice over). England's Horizon program is a truly awesome science documentary series, even covering some things that might not be considered traditional science programming. I haven't seen Horizon straight from the Beeb in a few years and wikipedia sites this [theregister.co.uk] article about it being dumbed down, but the best Nova episodes were simply episodes from Horizon.
    • by Buran (150348)
      I don't see anything wrong with ScienceNOW as long as it's only done for some of the episodes. It's a good way to cover new topics that are of interest currently while a more in-depth show is in the works.

      NOVA is still a great show.
    • I'm on a PBS viewer survey panel and they asked about titles and descriptions for these new shows. I believe that all of the proposed shows were in the newsmagazine format, they weren't even looking at anything else. My guess is these glossy shows are less expensive to produce and gain a wider audience because people tune in to the same show to see a wide variety of topics. With a traditional single topic documentary you get fewer viewers because some people simply won't be interested in that topic. This is
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Cosmos, the Carl Sagan documentary series from the 80's, has been airing on the Discovery channel this past month. If you want an example of what a science documentary should be this is it. In depth an yet presented in a way that is understandable. Not that I have a problem with the news magazine format but we could really use more programming like Cosmos and more people like Dr. Sagan
  • Wired Sucked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:00PM (#17516034)
    is it too much to have hosts that are not 30 something smart asses? or better yet, science stories that are not ubiquitous in the media already. or even better, shows dedicated to one topic rather than 4 or 5 so we can get some real information involved? or at best. . just redirect the funding to NOVA.
    • Michio Kaku [wikipedia.org] should have his own show on PBS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aqua OS X (458522)
      Eh. The Wired show strikes me as the only show out of that selection that could potentially broaden PBS's demographic a bit. Considering the recent resurgence of nuts who want PBS to slowly suffocate from lack of funding, I can't say I have a problem with PBS targeting the Wired / Engadget demographic.

      If they eliminated the irrelevant (and oddly boring) destruction of more electronics equipment, and focused a bit more on fewer stories, it could be respectable.
    • by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday January 08, 2007 @09:25PM (#17517518) Homepage Journal
      is it too much to have hosts that are not 30 something smart asses?

      How can you say that!?!

      They had a white male host, a black female host, and an Asian female host! Aside from finding a Hispanic hermaphrodite, how could it get any better than that?

      Enjoy your politically correct science, dammit!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Aside from finding a Hispanic hermaphrodite

        And you'd think the folks at Wired would know about that section of craigslist.

      • by rAiNsT0rm (877553)
        Que Suerte! I've finally found a job! Ariba, Ariba, Andele! ...Do these heels look OK with my chest hair?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by evilviper (135110)
      or better yet, science stories that are not ubiquitous in the media already. or even better, shows dedicated to one topic rather than 4 or 5 so we can get some real information involved?

      What? You mean you weren't edified by watching a woman cut a plasma TV in half with a circular saw?

  • by Mr_Perl (142164) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:03PM (#17516068) Homepage
    For the browser-plugin challenged:

    22nd Century
    mplayer mms://wm.z1.mii-streaming.net/media/pbs/windows/ge neral/windows/22ndcentury/22ndcentury_384.wmv

    (you'll have to remove a gap as entered by /.'s formatting "system")

    While I'm watching that, anyone else feel like digging through the source for the others?
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:06PM (#17516126) Journal
    How are these shows substantially different or improved from Nova ScienceNOW [imdb.com] and Scientific American Frontiers [imdb.com]? (Speaking of which, having Alan Alda as the host of that show made it palatable for some older people who wouldn't otherwise look at science stories.)

    If they really want a new show, they need a resurrection of Newton's Apple [imdb.com], and target younger audiences. For that matter, they should resurrect 3-2-1 Contact [imdb.com], too. If they need to find a free slot, they could get rid of Cyberchase [imdb.com], one of the lamest shows pretending to be educational I've seen, besides some emo girl clown sitting on a couch [imdb.com].
    • ...or they could just import Daily Planet [discoverychannel.ca] from Discovery Canada. It's been around for over a decade (with one rename), it's not Canada-centric, and it's actually *daily* (shock).

      (But Americans don't like watching shows with funny accents...)
      • (But Americans don't like watching shows with funny accents...)


        It's PBS, though -- the British comedies my local station (KERA) shows are amongst their most-watched and highest-rated, as are "Masterpiece Theatre," "Mystery!," and other shows full of "funny accents."

        No, it's probably more that the company behind Discovery Channel in the US has right of refusal on the show, first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TheSync (5291) *
      Stop Hatin' on Loonette! Chick clowns on couches rock!
    • by maxume (22995)
      It seems like there is a good chance that the new shows have different production teams that they shows you mentioned, so they would at least differ in that respect; perhaps the people who make the shows you mentioned are bored or have moved on.
    • by Damek (515688)
      You're concerned about Alan Alda getting older people to watch who wouldn't otherwise? Um, I think we could do with some younger people learning science who wouldn't otherwise!
      • You're concerned about Alan Alda getting older people to watch who wouldn't otherwise? Um, I think we could do with some younger people learning science who wouldn't otherwise!

        It's the old folks who have most of the investment capital locked up. Not to mention, they're the ones who have to keep the AARP from lobbying congress to cut funding for NASA and other programs. You think I'm joking, probably, but I assure you, as the population ages, there will be a lot more demand that the government spend more m

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BenFranske (646563)
      Speaking as someone who grew up with both 3-2-1 Contact and Newton's Apple I concur about resurrecting both of those. There is nothing in the current lineup (PBS or otherwise) of science shows that even approximates the quality found in these. Some of the early Bill Nye (it really was better towards the beginning, trust me) are as close as you come to a pre-teen/teen show like 3-2-1 Contact and he's no longer producing shows. Dragonfly TV doesn't cut it. The Newton's Apple viewer question format was also fa
    • by instarx (615765)
      How are these shows substantially different or improved from Nova ScienceNOW and Scientific American Frontiers? (Speaking of which, having Alan Alda as the host of that show made it palatable for some older people who wouldn't otherwise look at science stories.

      Excuse me dude, but what makes you think "older people" don't know science? Do you think science and scientists sprung from the ground twenty years ago? Because science and engineering programs have decreased at all grade levels over the past 20 years
      • There are PLENTY of people of all ages who don't have a clue about rational scientific thought and the need to support statements with facts. You, for example. :-)


        Care to support that statement with facts?

        I'm fully aware there are a lot of older people who are scientists and/or work in tech fields. But there are many who are not, and don't think they want to know.

        Do you think they are all scientists?

        • by instarx (615765)
          Care to support that statement with facts?
          I'm fully aware there are a lot of older people who are scientists and/or work in tech fields. But there are many who are not, and don't think they want to know.
          Do you think they are all scientists?


          Re-read my post. You are infering things that are not supported by my statements about the relative science knowlege of age groups. For example, I talked about the demographics of the age groups. I did not say that all older people were scientists, which would be absur
        • by instarx (615765)
          Ok, wait. I am being unduly snarky. There was nothing wrong with your original post except that it made an entirey unsupported assumption that older viewers needed an Alan Alda to induce them watch a science show. As one of those older persons you pigeon-holed into the hopelessly non-technical I just get tired of all the young whipper-snappers like you making the same assumption that all anyone over 40 knows how to do is hitch up a fucking horse. I have at least four science and engineering degrees (mayb
          • There was nothing wrong with your original post except that it made an entirey unsupported assumption that older viewers needed an Alan Alda to induce them watch a science show.

            I said some. Are you familiar with the terminology? I had my grandmother, specifically, in mind. I didn't bother to mention her before, but since you demand proof, there it is.

            As one of those older persons you pigeon-holed into the hopelessly non-technical I just get tired of all the young whipper-snappers like you making the same

  • by B5_geek (638928) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:12PM (#17516174)
    I am tired of all the "science" shows out there that are more flash and gimmick then cold-facts.

    ie.
    Naked Science
    Nova Now
    MythBusters
    EVERYTHING on Discovery & TLC

    I yearn for impartial & unbiased educational programming that I enjoyed in my youth. Now-a-days it seems that if they don't "wow" you in the first 10 seconds they think they have failed.

    An excellent example is Nature shows.
    Old goodness:
    Lorne Greens New Wilderness, Nature, Undersea Adventures of Jacques Cousteau *, Profiles of Nature.

    New Badness:
    Croc Hunter**, Fox Special "Worlds most Amazing/Dangerous Animals", etc.

    * Jacques Cousteau was Very preachy but (a) it was needed at that time, and (b) it was the first of it's kind.
    ** I loved how passionate Steve Irwin was about animals, and the first Season of Croc Hunter was awesome. But IMHO I think the show got too much attention and turned into a Jerry Springer of Nature shows and lost it's credibility.

    I do not have the attention span of a flea on crack. Take your time and explain the science behind what you are trying to show. I donate to PBS, but only on the 'heavy-science' shows. Alas it seems they don't get the message.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArcherB (796902) *
      I yearn for impartial & unbiased educational programming that I enjoyed in my youth

      In other words, boring.

      (/joke)
    • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:30PM (#17516398) Homepage Journal
      I do not have the attention span of a flea on crack.

      It's not about your attention span, it's about the fundamental purpose of television: Entertainment.

      Believe it or not, even education can be entertaining if presented in the right format. If I only wanted education, I wouldn't watch PBS, I would take a class or study a book. But when I watch PBS or Discovery or any of the other "educational" channels, I'm really shooting for entertainment that appeals to me in an intelligent, well-thought-out manner, not just seeking to learn something for the sake of learning something.

      I yearn for impartial & unbiased educational programming that I enjoyed in my youth. Now-a-days it seems that if they don't "wow" you in the first 10 seconds they think they have failed.

      Not me, I hated those shows. When I was young, I watched things like The Electric Company ("HEY YOU GUYYYYYYYS!"), 3-2-1 Contact, Schoolhouse Rock, Cosmos, and so on. Plenty of "wow" factor along with fantastic educational content.

      I'm also curious why you used the adjectives "impartial" and "unbiased." Are you implying the Myth Busters, Nova, and other such shows are somehow "partial" and "biased" because they're flashy? Are fun and educational mutually exclusive concepts to you?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pollardito (781263)

        I'm also curious why you used the adjectives "impartial" and "unbiased." Are you implying the Myth Busters, Nova, and other such shows are somehow "partial" and "biased" because they're flashy? Are fun and educational mutually exclusive concepts to you?

        i'm not the OP, but the problem that i have with Myth Busters is that while what they're doing has some science in it they don't really concern themselves in explaining their thought process during the show. they explain the myth, they describe their tests at a really high level and then show the test results (the flash), but they don't really spend much time explaining how they arrived at their test plan, why they don't need to test some other factors, or much else between the two endpoints of the timeli

        • by quizzicus (891184)
          I've only seen it a few times, but their thought process seems to involve little more than doing the first thing that pops into their heads. Or at least the presentation makes it appear that way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aqua OS X (458522)
      Anyone geek who hates MythBusters probably also hands out pennies on Halloween.
      • by thhamm (764787)
        Anyone geek who hates MythBusters probably also hands out pennies on Halloween.

        best show ever. 10 minutes of science, and 30 minutes adam hurting himself. i love them.

        /me want big boom!

        and remember: the hyneman is more afraid of you, than you are of the hyneman!
        • by jlarocco (851450)

          best show ever. 10 minutes of science, and 30 minutes adam hurting himself. i love them.

          All these people defending Mythbusters, and not one has mentioned the best feature of the show. Kari [imageshack.us] is [saturn5.com] really [members.shaw.ca] hot. [zimwiz.com] A bit ditzy, but still really hot.

          Regardless, it seems like the show got dumbed down. Especially the later seasons. Maybe I just noticed it more before I stopped watching. It seems like it switched from being about interesting stuff, to being about making the biggest explosion and having a highe

      • by evilviper (135110)
        Anyone geek who hates MythBusters probably also hands out pennies on Halloween.

        You can only watch people being absolute idiots for so long...

    • by RichPowers (998637) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:49PM (#17516632)
      So what if Mythbusters isn't about a group of PhDs sitting around in labcoats making precise calculations about various myths. In fact, I like Mythbusters because it shows that science isn't limited to sterile labs and academic conferences. I wouldn't use Mythbusters as a definitive answer to anything, but through its entertaining presentation, it teaches people fundamental aspects of logic, problem solving, and experimentation (scale models, controls, etc.) That alone makes it better than most television shows...
      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by CRCulver (715279)

        In fact, I like Mythbusters because it shows that science isn't limited to sterile labs and academic conferences.

        Uh, yes it is. Science is the process of building on earlier reputable studies. Do you think anyone is actually going to use Mythbusters, with its lack of appropriate controls, as a basis for his own research? Science also requires that nothing be published without peer review and approval, while obviously Mythbusters will just throw out whatever sells.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by GigsVT (208848)
          You really think that's all science is?

          Attitudes like yours destroy the credibility of science more than some religious nut.

          Science is all around us, it happens every time someone tests a hypothesis.

          Break out of your dogma and stop listening to your church bishops that have titles like Dr. or Professor.
          • The problem with mythbusters is that they are not imaginative enough to design a properly controlled experiment, and often prematurely bust or confirm myths that have been insufficiently throughly tested.

            They also occasionally have well-designed experiments, but they lack consistency. Part of the problem is also that some of the myths are just inappropriate for a show with limited resources and time to address.

            They really ought to have an engineer or physics professional on hand more often.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Andrew Kismet (955764)
          You are the reason science will never be popular as it should be with kids and teenagers. So what if it lacks controls? If it gets them into *REAL* science, they'll learn about the importance of rigourous testing. If it wasn't for watching Tron, the Last Starfighter, and WarGames in my youth I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be a Computer Science undergrad right now.

          Science does not "requires that nothing be published without peer review and approval" - that's the most rigourously painful, while still truthful,
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sholden (12227)
          Science is neither of those two things.

          Taking a non-reputable study and doing it afresh is perfectly valid science.

          There is nothing unscientific about publishing without peer review. In fact it is done *all* the time. Technical Reports are not peer reviewed for example. Peer review is an import an important part of science, however the statement "science also requires that nothing be published without peer review and approval" is completely false.
    • This brings up a good question. Can any Slashdotters recommend any good free online educational tv stations or downloadable shows? I know NOVA has a few things, but not much. Anything would be helpful. I've downloaded most of the BBC documentaries I can find online...I'm desperate here!

    • by kabocox (199019)
      I yearn for impartial & unbiased educational programming that I enjoyed in my youth. Now-a-days it seems that if they don't "wow" you in the first 10 seconds they think they have failed.

      Mr. Wizard and Mcguyver were the best engineering and general science shows ever.
    • Some of the best science books and shows I've seen are both educational and entertaining. Entertaining does just mean jazzy images and special effects, but that one tell a good story. Aristotle described the proper elements of a story 2300 years ago in his Poetics. Any novelist, screenwriter, journalist, etc. still follows these rules if they wish to be a success. These rules include plot, conflict, character development.
  • Saw them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaveM753 (844913) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:17PM (#17516232)
    I watched all of "22nd Century" and "Wired Science", and the first half of "Science Investigators". I thought "22nd Century" had interesting topics, but the "hosts" were utterly condescending, biased and overtly scripted, almost to the point of being insulting. I liked the topics in "Science Investigators" too, but the "this is like, way cool, man" approach of the first male host made me gag, so I turned it off after about 15-20 minutes. "Wired Science" was the best for me. I guess the other two shows would have broader appeal to a younger set of viewers than me (40 yrs and one day), but they can vote on their own... :-)
  • More NOVA!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:18PM (#17516238)

    Why not just make more original episodes of Nova, dangit!

    OTOH, there's tons of coverage of natural science, physics, applied science and anthropology, but in general not many shows on IT; this is remarkable considering how unlikely it is for the average person to see the Tevatron, but that person probably deals with computer viruses, data encryption and slow internets on a daily basis. There should be a Secret Life of Machines for computers. You could have:

    • The Secret Life of the Router
    • The Secret Life of C
    • The Secret Life of the Hard Drive

    And so on. I don't think Hunkin would do it, so we'd have to find someone suitably cheeky but computer-friendly and having an artistic streak. Maybe Woz.

    • by plopez (54068)
      'Software EXchange and Viruses, the Inside Story'?
    • by NitsujTPU (19263)
      The Secret Life of Machines was one of the best series ever.

      Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_Life_of_Ma chines [wikipedia.org]

      Incidentally, Tim Hunkin is totally cool and very accessible. He bought the rights to the show (if I recall, this was based on email correspondence with him years ago... I hope he doesn't get Slashdotted in his email box as a result.) He ENCOURAGES downloads via filesharing networks, and he even offered to burn DVDs for me a long time ago when I asked about it (but, I was an und
    • by dbIII (701233)
      and slow internets

      We need better science and general knowlege education - if only to stop people using this silly "internets" word. Whose tube did that come out of and why has it been used a lot in the last year?

    • by svunt (916464)
      You're missing something essential about television - it needs vision, moving, interesting things to look at. I think that's the biggest stumbling block to a good IT based show. Just watch the awesome footage on the news these days of every internet or computer related story. Great stock footage of someone scrolling down a google page seems to cover about 90% of the voiceover time. Now consider what you'd have on screen during your one hour "the secret lives of routers". I'm a card-carrying geek, but I'd
      • by iluvcapra (782887)

        Now consider what you'd have on screen during your one hour "the secret lives of routers". I'm a card-carrying geek, but I'd rather watch the 35-and-over curling finals.

        You'd think that, but SLOM had episodes like "The Secret Life of the Washing Machine" or "...Vacuum Cleaner" and was able to make it absolutely riveting, or at least quite fun, mainly by exploring the history of the thing and the relationship it has with humans.

        The router episode would HAVE to start with the story of Strowger inventing the

    • by evilviper (135110)

      this is remarkable considering how unlikely it is for the average person to see the Tevatron, but that person probably deals with computer viruses, data encryption and slow internets on a daily basis.

      I think it's safe to say the average person deals with gravity much more often than they deal with computer viruses.

      Your idea just reeks of a dumbed-down "how to remove spyware" show like those on TechTV... Somewhat the equivalent of Nova being turned into a show on antenna installation. If, instead, they act

  • The videos (Score:5, Informative)

    by ion_ (176174) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:19PM (#17516250) Homepage
  • Will future episodes also be available online? Surely they realize that they will get FAR more votes than regular viewers. It would be awesome if they did post them online all the time though. That aside, though, I have to say I agree with earlier posters: I'd just as soon see the funding go to Nova and maybe Nature.
  • Vodcasts? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:38PM (#17516504)
    Vodcasts? Seriously?

    Is it really so incredibly unhip to just say "video files"?

    Do we really have a moral imperative to create as many buzzwords as possible?
    • by GigsVT (208848)
      Yes, if you don't make up new buzzwords, a violinist dies!
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:30PM (#17517040)
      I slashread your textcast about jargon and nodnodnod with your cyber-sentiment.
    • by Kennric (22093)
      Not only is it labeled with a stupid buzzword, it doesn't even conform to the definition of the buzzword, i.e. video on demand via rss or atom enclosures (podcasts but with video files). It's actually a plugin-dependent flash video presented on a web page. Might as well just name it now - these pilots are being youtubed.
  • by netsfr (839855) on Monday January 08, 2007 @07:49PM (#17516642)
    We all had a chance to put our votes for the best science show in the sidebar just a few weeks ago ;-)

    I want them to bring back Bill Nye!
  • What about the old "In Search Of..." series? I used to love that show when I was a young and impressionable kid. My vote would be to bring that back.
    • by Knara (9377)

      Wasn't there a very short-run remake of that series sans Leonard Nimoy done recently?

      Anyway, In Search of... wasn't PBS quality, though entertaining.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      What about the old "In Search Of..." series?

      About the only thing I remember from those was Leonard Nimoy implying that boat ramps on Easter Island were the remains of roads build by aliens from Atlantis or something.

  • I watched Wired Science for about 8 minutes before getting so uninterested I changed channels and forgot all about it. Yet another unremarkable show. Let's hope the others are more interesting.
  • by Eternal Vigilance (573501) on Monday January 08, 2007 @08:39PM (#17517098)
    Even though the election won't close until at least the end of the month, the Supreme Court has ordained 5-4 that the winner is "Why Al Gore Is Wrong - The Triumphs Of Faith-Based Science."

    Future episodes will cover:

    • The real age of the Grand Canyon
    • Intelligent Design
    • The impossibility of heavier-than-air flight
    • The fundamental flaw in Gallileo's arguments
    • The unquestionable accuracy of US voting machines
    • Why you need to upgrade to Windows Vista
    • The iPod: No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.


    "Nobody expects the White House Inquisition!"
  • In the Wired Science pilot [pbs.org], starting at 22m 45s, we are treated to an attractive show host that cuts through a large flat panel screen with a circular saw. That gets my vote.
  • Why Beakman's World [wikipedia.org] isn't the fourth option?
  • Nova? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Coucho (1039182)
    I'm sure this has been said already, but why not just reinvest all that funding into Nova? It has truely been one of the best science shows on PBS today.
  • Web downloads are a good idea -- except for the disabled like me. They're not captioned. So I'm stuck waiting for the broadcasts on television since they will be captioned there.

    I expected better from PBS. They try so hard to adopt new technologies, but they choose to leave the disabled behind when it wasn't necessary.

    (They also don't do DVS on a lot of shows either).
    • by JohnFluxx (413620)
      There's no technical reason why they couldn't have subtitles embedded in the file. ogg and mkv support this, and probably other containers.
  • Bill Bill Bill Bill! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Attention PBS: I will vote for any show as long as you get Bill Nye to host it.
    That is all.
  • Considering just how many differing opinions and conflicts appear on the internet each day alone, you can just imagine the chaos that would cause trying to coordinate that mess within a hive mind situation. Unless a setup like this is extremely low-level hardware communicating each neuron independently of the individual's personality and mindset, I doubt it could be used efficiently. (Let alone safely.)

    Obviously, the stuff we learn during life has to be stored somewhere within the brain. If a system like th
  • by xmark (177899) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @02:02AM (#17519388)
    PBS has been struggling for years to figure out how to compete against the Discovery nonfiction channels (TLC, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and their lesser siblings) in science programming, and to a lesser extent, National Geographic and other comers. PBS has also struggled to see how the long-form documentary can continue to hold market share in a world that won't watch YouTube videos that run longer than two minutes.

    The old guard in television cannot fully grok the mindset of those who've come of age during the internet age and its panoply of media choices. But they do understand that without adaptation, they will die. So they tend to focus on acquiring the look-and-feel of new media (but not the vital essences), hoping that will make them seem relevant to new-media users. Lipstick on a pig, and all that. Very nice lipstick, sometimes, but....

    NOVA wisely invested early in web programming, and their science websites are superb examples of what can be done with Web 1.0. (Heh heh, I should disclose I wrote one of those to go along with the film I made. You can see it here. [pbs.org] Check out the "Dispatches" section for some old-skool science blogging.)

    NOVA on television has resisted surrendering its brand identity against immense financial pressure, as well as cultural pressure to "liven up," "get hip," and other assorted me-too thinking that says no one will sit and watch a quality hour anymore. NOVA hasn't quite caved, but you can see the difference when comparing latest product against films from earlier years. Still, once you see what they've been up against, NOVA is still a marvel of principle and plain old stubbornness.

    As for the purported modern lack of an audience for high-quality single-subject programs...I don't buy it.

    I'm part of the PBS advisory panel that's "focus-grouping" these new shows. (They don't even know I'm one of their past producers...and I ain't sayin'.) Trust me, PBS has marshaled extraordinary user input throughout the development of this new programming. They have done their homework. Nonetheless, I've been thinking it was the wrong homework assignment.

    IMO, focus-group design by consensus can yield good quality, but not brilliance. Can anyone imagine focus-grouping The Secret Life of Machines? The Day the Universe Changed? (Or to stretch it a bit, even Mystery Science Theater 3000?) Those shows, and other greats, rely on irrepressible characters who, like the author of a great book, slowly but surely make you realize they're in on a great secret. And that they want to let you in on it.

    Ok, some of these people are not poster children for The Seven Habits of Successful People, and could probably use a better haircut, but you just know they'd be doing this show for free (or maybe they did). It's not their panache but their passion that infects you like a Russian hacker's virus and absorbs you into their conspiracy. Their world is more full of dynamite and diamond pipes and Tesla coils and grizzly bears taking sunbaths and...and...they seem to have figured out how one thing connects to another. Their world is equal parts revealed truth and grand fun. Maybe even more grand fun than revealed truth. They make you realize the riches of the world lie around your feet like November leaves in such abundance that you haven't even noticed them as you kick your way forward each day.

    They open your eyes. They make you stay awake in your bed way too late and dream about the places you really can't wait any longer to go...and damn it, someday you will...then you fall asleep.

    I love Wired magazine, and have all kinds of cool electronica, and download books off Demonoid while I'm TiVoing BBC docs while I'm walking the stacks at the library while I'm listening to a podcast. But that doesn't mean I want a science show modeled on Entertainment Tonight's magazine format. I don't want hip poseurs, even if they've been coached not to seem like poseurs. I don't want beautiful people
  • This thread makes me wonder, what are some GOOD examples of Science podcasts/vodcasts?

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