×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Choose the New PBS Science Show

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the new-nova dept.

Television 143

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."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

143 comments

Use of voting system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17515970)

Since this is a three-way vote, will they, given the scientific setting, also be sophisticated enough to allow people to rank them and determine the result by a Condorcet method?

"So watch and vote." (3, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517058)

Better yet, turn the TV off, and read something like Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science", Dawkins "The God Delusion" or even something off the wall like McCutcheon's "The Final Theory", which will make you at least re-think what you know, though in the end you'll probably come to the same conclusion I did, which is, he's a crackpot. But a really clever one, especially if you read the whole book! :)

PBS... well, it isn't going to teach you any significant amount of science. It's 99.9% a complete waste of time, just like all the other pre-digested gee-whiz shows. If you want entertainment, by all means, head for the TV. But don't kid yourself that a TV show split over multiple subjects is going to be illuminating. It's just drool-fodder.

Re:"So watch and vote." (3, Insightful)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517214)

Better yet, put down those popular science books, enroll at a local university, and get yourself a degree in one of the hard sciences.

Re:"So watch and vote." (2, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517652)

None of those are "popular science" books. Wolfram's is literally the groundwork for a new science, Dawkins is a brilliantly (and deeply) reasoned reproach to theists everywhere, and the third title is a "replacement" science, as I indicated, probably no more than crack-pottery, though worth reading for the exercise you get in dealing with the cold water it attempts to throw on the conventional thinking.

You won't find any of them "at a local university." Besides which, most adults, while they may have time to noodle through a book, can't spare the time for a(nother) degree. Families, mortgages, you know. Grown-up stuff. Books allow for time shifting and just about any subject you prefer to chase; unlike both predigested pap you get on TV and the limited set of courses you can choose from at a university. Knowledge is not about degrees, anyway. Degrees mean something else, mainly that you can take direction for a few years and you're probably not bone-stupid.

Re:"So watch and vote." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17518656)

While I havn't read it myself, from what I've heard Wolfram's 'new' science is only 'new' if you classify 'new' as meaning already described by many people, just none of them has an ego the size of Wolfram's.

Re:"So watch and vote." (2, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519092)

Personally, I take it that his ego has to be ignored; it definitely infects the writing style. However, the ideas are new, quite elegant, and very, very basic. I don't think they're a rehash, though there are topics (cellular automata) that have had some work done on them. He's not just talking about cellular automata themselves, he's talking about the way the universe works and he actually shows the same mechanisms underlying large portions of math that underlie everything from shell growth to turing machines. Not the other way around. He then turns some ideas over about how we think, reason... I wouldn't sell the book short if I were you. If its too spendy (about $50, I think) get your library to get a copy or just read it online. [wolframscience.com]

I read it somewhat online, then decided I wanted it in my library and bought it, then I started over and read it to the end. I really, really enjoyed it.

Re:"So watch and vote." (2, Informative)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519134)

However, the ideas are new, quite elegant, and very, very basic. I don't think they're a rehash, though there are topics (cellular automata) that have had some work done on them. He's not just talking about cellular automata themselves, he's talking about the way the universe works and he actually shows the same mechanisms underlying large portions of math that underlie everything from shell growth to turing machines.

The ideas are not new. The Santa Fe Research Institute has been studying all of this stuff since the 70s.

He is not doing science in this book, either. Sure, he talks about the way he thinks the universe works. But he doesn't do any experiments to verify his assertions.

Re:"So watch and vote." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17519192)

And the idea that that is the way the universe works is not new either. There has been speculation on that theory for years.

Re:"So watch and vote." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17519036)

Indeed, none of them are science books at all. Wolfram is handwavy mathematics with a large dose of narcissism, Dawkins is second-rate philosophy, and McCutcheon is as you say. It's laughable that you insult people who watch TV shows when you recommend this trash.

E O Wilson (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519220)

One of E O Wilson's recent books, Consilience, is in a similar category.

I expect a few more from his generation to add their insights to existing fields or point to new fields during the next few years. He and his peers have been retired and now realize that they themselves must write before they kick off.

Re:"So watch and vote." (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519230)

You won't find any of them "at a local university."

Funny. A New Kind of Science was required reading for a class I took on Artificial Life, as it is a good -- if long and self-indulgent -- exposition of the basic concepts in the field. But they are just basic concepts in a field that's been around since the 70s.

Knowledge is not about degrees, anyway. Degrees mean something else, mainly that you can take direction for a few years and you're probably not bone-stupid.

Spoken like someone who didn't apply themselves in school.

But you're right. A degree alone is meaningless. But since we're on the topic of self-improvement through learning, I figured it was safe to assume that our hypothetical student would apply himself. Especially since I assumed that your hypothetical autodidact was interested in learning. We should be generous in our assumptions.

A university obviously provides more resources for learning science than bad popular science books can. If one wants to learn science, being an autodidact is not a good way of going about it.

Re:"So watch and vote." (2, Insightful)

Mard (614649) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519186)

So you're saying that those three books teach a significant amount of science that you won't find on TV? Sure, perhaps if you're comparing a 1 hour program to a book, the book (if it's worth reading, that is) is going to win. But if you compare the equivalent of 1 book's worth time of television programs, some programs will win. The fact that you're so easily able to dismiss an entire medium (television) is JUST AS BAD as those who forgo reading books and spend their lives wasting away watching television.

These three programs (and almost no television program to date, though there are exceptions which I'll point out in a moment) do not claim to teach you everything there is to know about Science_X, instead they introduce the viewer to new and newsworthy science in varying fields. This BROADENS YOUR MIND. Books are terrible at this when compared to a well-created television program, because books can't be produced as often (on the period of years rather than weeks). Books also generally only present a single topic, and thus you would have to read many books to learn of many topics, while each of these 1 hour television programs introduces 6 or 7 current scientific endeavors. I consider myself to at least have a grasp of the basics in many fields, and believe I'm aware of many of the challenges and advancements of today's technology and sciences, but each of these shows managed to find at least one topic that I have never heard of before. If I were seriously interested in any of them, beyond the simple briefing, it would be trivial to find more detailed information on the subjects online or in a library. The best comparison I can find for these programs is a video slashdot: they take tech stories, and provide their own discussion and dissection of the topic. As you're commenting here, it's somewhat obvious you find slashdot worth your time, so it puzzles me why you'd so easily discount a television program you've never watched before.

I watched all three, and the only one I found worth my time was the Science Investigators. It's kind of like Mythbusters, but without the goofy and fun part, and more with the research and footwork part. And instead of myths, they research cool or novel technologies.

An example of a program which attempts to inform the viewer quite a bit about a single subject: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/programmes/tv/blueplan et/ [bbc.co.uk]

no more 1hr documentaries (4, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17515986)

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?

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (5, Funny)

InfinityWpi (175421) | more than 7 years ago | (#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)

Here, have two points: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17516098)

. .

Re:Here, have two points: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17518550)

..

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17516154)

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.

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518188)

"Point? I have no point. I often have no point. It's part of my charm..."
-- Chris Knight, Real Genius

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516588)

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...

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (4, Informative)

maynard (3337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516864)

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.

i Call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517358)

"The Miracle of Life," released in 1983, is probably the most loved Nova program of all time & garnered both an Emmy and a Peabody.

But another broadcast to win both these awards, "The Elegant Universe," is also an excellent (and hardly dumbed down) program released in 2003.

I don't like the Nova: Science Now format, but NOVA is still making fine programs.

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518358)

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".

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518396)

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.

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518956)

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 not a defense of PBS by any means, I really enjoy traditional documentaries and watch almost no newsmagazine style shows finding them disappointing and lacking any information I didn't already know. I don't know that you'll see a commitment to a series based only on traditional documentaries though, more likely periodic specials or mini-series.

Re:no more 1hr documentaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17519028)

Anyone who wants to watch some great Science shows on the net can tune to Vega Science Trust... Link below. Great discussions and presentations from leading scholars.

http://www.vega.org.uk/ [vega.org.uk]

We need a new Cosmos (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17519354)

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 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wired Sucked (2, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517080)

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.

Re:Wired Sucked (3, Funny)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517518)

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:Wired Sucked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17519280)

> Aside from finding a Hispanic hermaphrodite, how could it get any better than that?

I have 4 words for you: disabled Norwegian midget eunuch. :-)

Re:Wired Sucked (2, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517638)

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?

Direct link to 22nd century (4, Informative)

Mr_Perl (142164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516068)

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?

Re:Direct link to 22nd century (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517458)

mplayer mms://wm.z1.mii-streaming.net/media/pbs/windows/ge neral/windows/kcet/wiredscience/wired-pilot-full_3 20.wmv

wget http://media.pbs.org/asxgen/general/windows/wgbh/s i/chapter_all_308.asx [pbs.org]
mplayer chapter_all_308.asx

Re:Direct link to 22nd century (2, Interesting)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517676)

Actually, the QuickTime versions seem to work better.

wget http://www.pbs.org/media/22ndcentury/22ndcentury_3 84.mov [pbs.org]
mplayer 22ndcentury_384.mov

wget http://www.pbs.org/media/kcet/wiredscience/wired-p ilot-full_480.mov [pbs.org] -O wired_pilot_full_480.mov
mplayer wired_pilot_full_480.mov

wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_1_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch1.mov
wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_2_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch2.mov
wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_3_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch3.mov
wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_4_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch4.mov
wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_5_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch5.mov
wget http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_6_300. mov [pbs.org] -O ch6.mov
mplayer ch*.mov

They don't seem to have that last one as one big file.

Re:Direct link to 22nd century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517874)

just copy and paste into your console:

mplayer mms://wm.z1.mii-streaming.net/media/pbs/windows/ge neral/windows/22ndcentury/22ndcentury_384.wmv;mpla yer -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs mms://wm.z1.mii-streaming.net/media/pbs/windows/ge neral/windows/kcet/wiredscience/wired-pilot-full_4 80.wmv;mplayer -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_1_300. mov;mplayer [pbs.org] -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_2_300. mov;mplayer [pbs.org] -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_3_300. mov;mplayer [pbs.org] -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_4_300. mov;mplayer [pbs.org] -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_5_300. mov;mplayer [pbs.org] -vo gl2 -ao sdl -stereo 0 -hardframedrop -fs http://www-tc.pbs.org/wgbh/si/video/chapter_6_300. mov [pbs.org]

why not all three (-1, Flamebait)

xzvf (924443) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516070)

Pay for it by dumping BBC reruns.

Re:why not all three (3, Funny)

kitsunewarlock (971818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516176)

You sir take that back! I've only seen every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus twice...TWICE! That is unacceptible! Unexpectidly unacceptible. As unexpected as...

Re:why not all three (1)

Hektor_Troy (262592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517992)

You sir take that back! I've only seen every episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus twice...TWICE! That is unacceptible! Unexpectidly unacceptible. As unexpected as...
The Spanish Intermission!

Re:why not all three (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516524)

Because investing in state owned reruns certainly costs as much as funding 2 additional new shows.

Why is this necessary? (4, Interesting)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516126)

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].

Daily Planet (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516668)

...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...)

Re:Daily Planet (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516770)

(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:Why is this necessary? (2, Funny)

TheSync (5291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516766)

Stop Hatin' on Loonette! Chick clowns on couches rock!

Re:Why is this necessary? (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517006)

Stop Hatin' on Loonette! Chick clowns on couches rock!


Acting funny is one thing, acting mentally ill is quite different.
But hey, whatever makes you feel at home or turns you on :)

Re:Why is this necessary? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516772)

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.

Re:Why is this necessary? (1)

Damek (515688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518038)

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!

Re:Why is this necessary? (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518618)

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 money on Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, drug research, etc., and less on non-affiliated research of all types.

Re:Why is this necessary? (2, Insightful)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518918)

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 fantastic and did agreat job of utilizing local subject matter experts from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area including major researchers at the University of Minnesota. There is no question in my mind that such a program was and still is viable, they just took their eye off the ball trying to grow into a multi-host show.

Anything educational please. (5, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Anything educational please. (2, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516284)

I yearn for impartial & unbiased educational programming that I enjoyed in my youth

In other words, boring.

(/joke)

Re:Anything educational please. (4, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516398)

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:Anything educational please. (2, Interesting)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516736)

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 timeline. it seems like they're catering to those that just want to watch the flash and those that can look at their end test results and already know enough to work backwards from there. there's not really any education going on, because the first target audience is people who don't want to know more and the latter target audience already knows the subject anyway. i was watching the show at my parents' house over the holiday and everyone in the room agreed that it'd be much more interesting if they'd spend the entire time debunking one myth in more detail than glossing over all the interesting stuff so that they could cram two myths or more into one show.

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

quizzicus (891184) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518784)

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:Anything educational please. (2, Insightful)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516558)

Anyone geek who hates MythBusters probably also hands out pennies on Halloween.

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

thhamm (764787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516844)

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!

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517528)

Anyone geek who hates MythBusters probably also hands out pennies on Halloween.

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

Re:Anything educational please. (5, Insightful)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Anything educational please. (0, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517020)

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:Anything educational please. (2, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517076)

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.

Re:Anything educational please. (2, Interesting)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517128)

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, definition I've seen. Science is the Scientific Method: Observe, Hypothesis, Test, Repeat.

Re:Anything educational please. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17518382)

If it wasn't for watching Tron, the Last Starfighter, and WarGames in my youth

I've never found science-fiction fans to be at all more literate of the scientific process than fantasy fans. It's very rare for people to go on to voluntarily go on to further the basic skills they learned as a kid. As a result, teach bad science and you're going to get a population with a bad grasp of science. As for computer science, and I say this as someone who majored in it, it's very rarely taught as science rather than an engineering discipline.

Re:Anything educational please. (2, Informative)

sholden (12227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517526)

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.

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

KrancHammer (416371) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518296)

On that note, anybody as disgusted by the state of wildlife documentaries? Sensationalist, anthropomorphizing, artificial drivel like "Meerkat Manor" or Ritalin-deprived shows that are more about the guy in front of the camera than about the animals. Thank jeebus for David Attenborough.

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

OfficeSubmarine (1031930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518314)

Just give me something, anything, that teaches kids the scientific method and logical thought. Just one show that will install a mental bullshit detector in a kid is worth a thousand shows focusing simply on the end results of science as applied to technology.

Re:Anything educational please. (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17519194)

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!

Saw them (4, Interesting)

DaveM753 (844913) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!! (4, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:More NOVA!! (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516830)

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 undergrad and international shipping plus DVD burning at the time wasn't cheap!)

Re:More NOVA!! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517442)

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?

Re:More NOVA!! (1)

svunt (916464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517538)

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 rather watch the 35-and-over curling finals.

Re:More NOVA!! (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517592)

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 actually did a show on the underlying concepts of computer science, I could see that being decent, and potentially popular with the same people who watch other PBS shows.

Future Episodes (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516418)

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? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

Re:Vodcasts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517208)

"vodcast" is a weird neoligism.

However, the link is to the RSS file, so "video files" would be a poor substitute.

Re:Vodcasts? (1)

Kennric (22093) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517394)

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.

Re:Vodcasts? (1)

purplepaste (759606) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518406)

Well, I'm not going to argue that it's a stupid buzzword, but did you actually try watching the videos? There is some Flash on the pages, but the videos themselves are available as hi- and low-res embedded MOVs and WMVs. Plus, the RSS feed has M4V enclosures... so, stupid buzzwords aside, that would appear to meet the definition of a "vodcast"/"video podcast"/video on demand via rss enclosures.

no need to ask, just look at slashdot... (3, Insightful)

netsfr (839855) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17516678)

Just send the cash to the BBC, RDF and the like in the UK.

In Search Of... (1)

Seeth42 (138589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17516728)

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.

Re:In Search Of... (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517030)

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.

Re:In Search Of... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517486)

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.

Wired Science (1)

ryanisflyboy (202507) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517042)

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.

And in a surprising turn of election events (3, Funny)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 7 years ago | (#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!"

I pick Wired Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517162)

'Course they got to get a new cast though because Anthony Michael Hall's too old and Kelly LeBrock hit the wall.

Sawing through a flat panel wins my vote (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517280)

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.

Nova? (2, Informative)

Coucho (1039182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517506)

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 not captioned (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517842)

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).

Bill Bill Bill Bill! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17517860)

Attention PBS: I will vote for any show as long as you get Bill Nye to host it.
That is all.

Coordinating a collective mind? (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17517906)

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 this can do something as creepy as accessing specific neurons/neuron sets as easily as computers can access various memory registers, and then insert, copy or remove information from those areas in addition to basic data processing, the potential risks would be to dangerous to use on the human body.

Risks could range anywhere between identity theft, to brain piracy to coma/death from brain viruses or "crashing" the brain itself by accidentally altering the neurons the wrong way.

As cool as a hive mind type setup might seem, I think I'll keep the networked hardware outside of my body. No reason we can't be satisfied augmented reality and passive, non-invasive communication with the brain, alone.

That aside though, implantable, non-networked hardware could have some nice benefits. For example, imagine if you could have math-coprocessor to perform the heavy lifting of calulating large, complicated number sets, while leaving the rest of your mind free to use the results in some innovative, creative way. Or, how about a form of long term data storage that's far more reliable than your brain, and can record data from your various senses about a particular event in an entirely objective manner... rather than being altered by your flawed "perception" of that event?

At any rate, we may eventually start altering our brains through external means in the near future, but the brainnetworking stuff would just be too much.

Gnome sighting? (1)

Eric Pierce (636318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518462)

Just a random observation in the Science Investigators episode; about 2/3rds through the episode I see some desktop apps w/RedHat's blue curve theme. It could be Gnome but I'm not sure (as that theme has been 'ported' all over the place).

Curse the bloat! (1)

FunkeyMonk (1034108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17518846)

I haven't yet finished downloading and watching the pilots, but the Science Investigators weighs in at 508 MB! That loses a few points on my scale...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...