A radio broadcast on probability told through a tale about a drifting balloon, a newspaper series on the impact of a devastating genetic disease on a family in rural Montana, and a group of gracefully written stories about genetics and evolution are among the winners of the 2009 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The 2009 awards are the first to be given under a new endowment by The Kavli Foundation. In recognition of that endowment, the awards first given in 1945 now are called the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards. The Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity.
The new endowment also allowed expansion of the television category to include two awards for the first time, one for spot news/feature reporting and one for in-depth reporting.
Independent panels of science journalists select the winners of the awards. The winners for each category will receive $3000 and a plaque at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego in February.
Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler and Robert Krulwich of WNYC's Radiolab won the radio prize for a story about what happened when an English girl released a balloon with a label, "Please send back to Laura Buxton." In the south of England, the balloon landed near the home of another Laura Buxton. What to make of the startling coincidence?
"This is a tale about miracles which, on closer examination, are not quite as miraculous as they seem," Krulwich said. "Ordinarily an anti-miracle story sounds like a downer but in this case, by mixing girls, grandpas, balloons, statistics professors and probability theory, we came up with an un-miracle that feels almost miraculous. I think that's way cool."
Soren Wheeler said he had long been trying to "find ways to get regular people to engage not only with scientific ideas, but also with the habits of mind that are so imp
|Contact: Earl Lane|
American Association for the Advancement of Science