Sunday, May 20, 2007

Numb3rs wins NSF award

I used to blog every episode of Numb3rs in its first season, and got bored of doing this soon after. However, I've continued to watch the show; I don't have the heart to avoid watching a show that involves mathematics (and more often than not, computer science). It's been surprisingly decent in its three years, as long as you're willing to concede all kinds of miraculous data mining feats performed in the span of a few hours.

However, I always wondered if it could make it on a mainstream network for very long. After all, ratings are king, and how long could such a tech-heavy series last ? After all, the crime procedural aspects of the show are hardly unique, and with the monster success of CSI, even more scientifically oriented crime series were clogging up the airwaves.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Numb3rs is now the "most-watched show" on Friday nights, clocking in at around 12 million viewers. It's been picked up for a fourth season, and ended season three with a dramatic moment, as well as interesting existential angst for the main characters. In fact, I suspect one of the reasons Numb3rs has done so well is that they've done a fairly realistic job of portraying some of tensions inherent in the life of the researcher (even if the mathematics itself, and the way the characters talk about it, is still somewhat cringeworthy).

The NSF (or technically, the NSB, the board that oversees the NSF) has recognized the success of Numb3rs as well. The show and its creaters were just given a public service award for
...extraordinary contributions to increase public understanding of science. Recipients are chosen for their contributions to public service in areas such as: increasing the public's understanding of the scientific process and its communication; contributing to the development of broad science and engineering policy; promoting the engagement of scientists and engineers in public outreach; and fostering awareness of science and technology among broad segments of the population.

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