NSF to get into cable TV game

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today it will partner with ResearchChannel to develop programs with science themes for national and international distribution via cable television, the Internet and other media.

“The partnership provides an ideal mechanism for NSF to inform the public about the countless scientific research efforts and discoveries NSF supports,” said Jeff Nesbit, director of NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. “ResearchChannel will make it possible for NSF to deliver quality science-themed programming in a range of formats,” Nesbit said.

Under the partnership agreement, NSF will transmit to ResearchChannel up to 150 program hours a year in formats that include a series of lectures from distinguished scientists, including Nobel prize winners; a series of panel discussions with scientists and journalists about ongoing NSF-funded research and current scientific issues; and an institutional research series that will feature new and archived video from different scientific research and educational communities.

Founded in 1996, ResearchChannel links a growing global audience to the revolutionary developments, insights and discoveries of more than 60 contributing research and academic institutions.

“We bring together ideas from the world’s premier institutions and share them with the world using traditional, new and emerging technologies,” said Amy Philipson, executive director of ResearchChannel. “Our partnership with NSF will further our efforts to engage our audience in the research process by communicating developments as they unfold.”

The partnership’s first co-production is “Frontier,” a weekly, hour-long show with researchers discussing discoveries made possible through NSF support and key issues at the research frontier. The first episode of “Frontier” will premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2007. “Frontier” will air Wednesdays at 2:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. (all Pacific time). It will air Saturdays at 1:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. (all Pacific time).

Some upcoming topics on “Frontier” include marine biologist Donal Manahan looking at three centuries of exploration and research at the north and south poles and why they matter today; and engineering professor Richard Murray describing the world’s most grueling competition for self-driving robotic cars.

NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, with the exception of medical sciences. The agency is tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology.

In addition to funding research in traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high-risk, high pay-off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow. And in every case, NSF ensures that research is fully integrated with education so that today’s revolutionary work will also help train tomorrow’s top scientists and engineers.

ResearchChannel makes high-definition resources available more widely over the Internet to enhance learning environments, improve videoconferencing technology and increase accessibility to the rich digital collections amassed by research and scientific communities.

Through cable and satellite distribution, ResearchChannel is available to more than 27 million U.S. households. The channel is also available on select academic networks in the United States and other countries. Online, ResearchChannel.org uses advanced streaming and broadband technologies to provide programming via a live webstream and an extensive video-on-demand library. The library houses thousands of full-length programs that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


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