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Winners of the 2009 AAAS Kavli science journalism awards

ighted to know that even scientists are not immune to the allure of bling."

In-Depth Reporting (more than 20 minutes)
Doug Hamilton
"The Last Extinction"
31 March 2009

What caused the rapid extinction, some 12,900 years ago, of large mammals such as woolly mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant ground sloths that roamed North America? The NOVA program explored the leading theories, including the possibility that a comet broke apart in the atmosphere and smashed into the continent in multiple pieces, triggering explosions, forest fires and other devastating effects that led to the demise of up to 35 species of large mammals. The judges called the program, which used striking computer animations of the animals in question, a balanced exploration of a controversial theory. "The piece exhibited great writing, with dramatic tension between competing views," said Janet Raloff of Science News. Kathy Sawyer, a freelance science writer formerly with The Washington Post, said the program "dramatizes the rigors of the scientific method in such compelling areas as the search for a specific layer of ice from 12,900 years ago, the discovery of extraterrestrial nano-diamonds that brings one scientist to tears, and clues hidden in sloth poop." Hamilton said there were no guarantees when his team decided to follow a scientific expedition in Greenland where the outcome was very uncertain. In the end, he said, "not only were the results really fascinating, it allowed us to show real science in actionfrom strenuous field work to the emotional thrill of those rare moments of discovery."

Jad Abumrad, Soren Wheeler, Robert Krulwich
WNYC Radiolab
"A Very Lucky Wind"
15 June 2009

The judges praised the winning radio entry on probability for its lively, non-traditional approach in tackling a subject that touches on a fundamental issue of science literacy. David Baron of Public

Contact: Earl Lane
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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