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BEST IDEAS AWARD 2004 WINNERS ANNOUNCED


The editors of Contact in Context announced the 2004 winners at the recent SETI League conference (August 5-7, 2004) in Trenton, New Jersey. The winner in the Contact in Context paper category was one entitled "A Portrait of Humanity" by Jon Lomberg, a respected space artist living in Hawaii. In addition to his paper for the journal, over the years Lomberg contributed the illustrations and artistic designs to several of Carl Sagan's books, his TV series Cosmos, and the film adaptation of his novel Contact. Lomberg was design director for NASA's Voyager record, as well as the Portrait of Humanity, a photograph which had initially been scheduled to fly aboard the Cassini spacecraft, but which sadly was deleted from the flight manifest prior to launch. His recent essay "Portrait of Humanity," which this award honors, tells the story of that abortive attempt at announcing humankind's place in the cosmos.

 
Prof. Rob Lodder, editor-in-chief of Contact In Context, announces the selection of Jon Lomberg, a respected space artist living in Hawaii, for the journal's 2004 Best Ideas Award.

This year, in addition to the award to Jon Lomberg, the editors of Contact in Context decided to recognize an entire website instead of a particular publication. This Best Ideas Award went to the SETI League website for providing a wide-ranging forum for technical, creative, innovative, and controversial ideas. Such a forum, free from ultraconservative prejudice and subtle censorship, is especially important in the SETI field -- a field that clearly needs fresh ideas and voices. As the SETI League executive director and webmaster, Dr. H. Paul Shuch received the Best Ideas Award for creating and nurturing such a forum.


Without the vision, enthusiasm, energy, and funding of Mr. Richard Factor over the past decade, the SETI League would likely not exist today. Richard Factor leads Eventide, Inc., a high-tech electronics company in New Jersey. Founder of the nonprofit SETI League, and its President since its inception in 1994, he is an important leader in the privatization of SETI. Factor established The SETI League in response to the US Congress having canceled the NASA SETI program in 1993. Without Richard Factor there would be no SETI League or website to provide a home for unusual ideas from outside of mainstream thinking. Consequently, the editors of Contact in Context selected Richard Factor a winner of a Best Ideas Award.

This year, the editors of Contact In Context honored The SETI League website, presenting special Best Ideas Awards to SETI League founder Richard Factor (left), and webmaster H. Paul Shuch (right), for "providing a wide-ranging forum for creative, innovative, and controversial ideas. Such a forum, free from ultraconservative prejudice and subtle censorship, is especially important in the SETI field -- a field that clearly needs fresh ideas and voices."

An Honorable Mention award in the 2004 Best Ideas Awards went to James N. Gardner for his book called BIOCOSM, The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe. Biocosm confronts those on both sides of the debate over evolution and creationism. This rational and articulate book suggests that life and intelligence have not materialized as a succession of random accidents, but instead are "hardwired" into the succession of cosmic creation, evolution, death, and rebirth. Gardner's conjecture of an exponential coevolution of biological and electronic intelligence, planned and supervised, offers an surprising image of a universe with point and purpose.

 
Prof. Allen Tough, editor for Contact In Context, announces a Best Ideas Honorable Mention award to James N. Gardner, for his book called BIOCOSM, The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe.

 

SETI League photos, used by permission.

 

BEST IDEAS AWARD

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 website).

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 L0DDER@contactincontext.org (replace zero with the letter O) and to Dr. Allen Tough (CIC Editor) at Tough77@ieti.org.

Complete rules are available on the SETI League website.

 

Best Ideas Awards 2003

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