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Zenith Grant Awardee

Paula Apsell

WGBH

Project Title

The Nature of Reality

Project Summary

Since 1974 on broadcast and 1996 on its web platform, NOVA has tackled challenging physics and other science subjects, making them exciting and understandable to a lay audience. We have the skills and experience to present groundbreaking physics discoveries and fundamental questions in the field, and we have an enormous lay audience standing by with a strong appetite for this topic. However, without securing additional, targeted funding, we are unable to cover timely reporting on a regular basis, or to create web-exclusive content that is not tied directly to a NOVA program or its subject matter. Only with FQXi\'s support can we make this kind of newsworthy and innovative content a reality through the continuation of NOVA\'s weekly physics blog, \'The Nature of Reality.\' Covering foundational questions in physics is a perfect fit with NOVA\'s editorial mission, responds to our web audience\'s clear interest in math and physics, and aligns with our goal of promoting the public interest in and understanding of foundational physics.

Technical Abstract

In October, 2011, with support from FQXi, NOVA launched a weekly physics blog, \'The Nature of Reality\', on such foundational questions as the origin of the universe, the merging of quantum mechanics with general relativity, and the nature of time and space. Over 15 months we published a collection of 60 blogs from physicists, mathematicians, and popular writers. \'The Nature of Reality,\' while focusing exclusively on foundational questions, benefits from its positioning within the NOVA site, a popular destination for content on a wide variety of science and engineering topics. During 2012, the site received 12 million unique visitors and 20 million views. This initiative is able to leverage that traffic to get the word out about groundbreaking new discoveries and tantalizing mysteries in theoretical physics, and to expand public awareness and support of such research. NOVA seeks funding to continue this blog for two more years. We will publish approximately 100 new articles that will enable us to capitalize on the success of our 2011 FQXi grant by broadening the scope of the foundational questions we cover to include the physics of information. We will also redesign the blog so it displays well across desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

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