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The editors of Contact in Context announced the 2005 winners at the recent CONTACT conference (March 18-20, 2005) in Mountain View, California. Honored with "Best Ideas Awards" this year at the annual CONTACT conference were conference organizers Jim Funaro and Joel Hagen, and science author Gerald D. Nordley. CONTACT, an informal gathering of artists, authors, educators, and social scientists, as well as SETI enthusiasts, has been held annually since 1983, but this is the first time their conference has hosted the Best Ideas Awards.

"The earliest Best Ideas Awards went to authors for a particular book or paper," explained Contact in Context editor Prof. Allen Tough. "Last year we expanded our scope. We chose The SETI League's entire web site because it provides a nourishing forum for fresh bold ideas. This year we chose an entire conference." He then recognized Funaro and Hagen for their two decades of dedication and leadership, as founders and organizers of the popular CONTACT meetings. "The annual CONTACT conference is the best conference on this planet as a forum for innovative new ideas related to SETI and contact," noted Tough. Prof. Robert Lodder, editor-in-chief of Contact in Context, said "CONTACT has become an influential academic meeting, attracting participants from countless universities."

  The CONTACT conference, held annually for over 20 years, is a popular interdisciplinary meeting for authors, artists, and scientists as they gather together to share ideas and explore possibilities of the future of humanity, both onworld and offworld. Over the years, the CONTACT conference has promoted a vision of interdisciplinary work, creative thinking, professionalism, and education. Just as The SETI League's entire web site last year, the CONTACT conference is honored for providing a nourishing forum for fresh bold ideas. View the web site for the CONTACT conference at

James Funaro (center-left) and Joel Hagen (center-right) received the Best Idea Awards for their efforts as founders and organizers of the Annual CONTACT conferences from Prof. Robert Lodder (far-left) and Prof. Allen Tough (far-right) of Contact in Context. Says Tough, "Both Jim Funaro and Joel Hagen work very hard behind the scenes to put together each year a conference with fresh interesting ideas. Even more important, each of them exhibits an effective combination of scientific rigor, open-mindedness, wide-ranging vision, and warm personal encouragement.

Gerald D. Nordley, a real-life rocket scientist and author, publishes extensively in the technical literature under his own name, and writes science fiction under the thinly disguised pseudonym of G. David Nordley. He received the journal's first Lifetime Achievement Ideas Award for his extensive body of work in support of the efforts to achieve interstellar contact. Prof. Lodder noted that "Nordley has been instrumental in the CONTACT conference over the years, serving as its treasurer and as inspiration through his award-winning science fiction." Over the years, Nordley has produced poetry and paintings as well as technical articles, short stories, and a book. "He is widely known for his prompt, precise, blunt email messages whenever he detects thinking that is sloppy, unduly narrow, or short-term. He makes us think big," said Tough.  

Gerald D. Nordley received the first Contact in Context Lifetime Achievement Award at the CONTACT conference in March 2005.

The 2005 BEST Ideas Awards for papers or essays published in Contact in Context are scheduled to be announced at the end of the year.


Each year, the editors of Contact In Context choose two publications to receive the "Best Ideas Award". The aim is to highlight recent publications that have contributed especially fresh, bold, profound ideas that are valuable to people engaged in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Each award consists of a certificate and a check for $500. If the publication has two authors, each of the authors will receive a certificate and $250. If it has more than two authors, they will decide among themselves how the money is to be divided.

Normally one of these is a paper or essay published in Contact in Context during the previous 12 months. The other can be any type of publication at all (such as a book, chapter, journal article, conference paper, journal, web document, or monograph) or it can be any forum for fresh ideas and unfettered thinking (such as a conference or web site).

The editors may occasionally choose one or more publications worthy of Honorable Mention. The senior author will receive $200. The Editors reserve the right to present more or fewer than two awards in any given year. The Editors reserve the right to present no award in any given year.

Nominations and self-nominations are welcomed. Send them to Dr. Robert A. Lodder (CIC Editor-in-Chief) at (replace zero with the letter O) and to Dr. Allen Tough (CIC Editor) at sghi_at_ieti_dot_org.

Complete rules are available on the SETI League web site.

Best Ideas Awards 2004

Best Ideas Awards 2003

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