2002 Foresight Institute Prize in Communication

for excellence in educating the public and R&D community on emerging technologies

Nominations are due by August 7, 2002

Winner of 2002 Prize Announced

David Pescovitz, writer-in-residence at the University of California-Berkeley’s College of Engineering and a columnist with Small Times, a magazine covering nanotech developments, was named the winner of the year 2002 Foresight Prize in Communications.  

Comments upon winning the 2002 Foresight Prize in Communication

David Pescovitz
October 12, 2002

Thank you very much. This is truly a great honor.

For me, writing about emerging technology is a dream job. I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to see the future as it’s being invented. But with that privilege comes a responsibility that I don’t take lightly and, quite honestly, sometimes scares the hell out of me. Science writers are tasked with clearly and accurately describing emerging technology to a general audience so that everyone can intelligently consider the potentials and risks that accompany intense innovation. After all, the only way the design of the future can become a collaborative effort is through the advancement of public knowledge.

My interests as a writer are eclectic. In fact, I became a journalist because my insatiable curiosity wouldn’t permit me to focus on one particular subject. But ever since I was first introduced to the notion of nanotechnology, the field has been like a magnet to me. It’s necessarily cross-disciplinary, so it provides me with an opportunity to dip into a multitude of fields, from computer science and biology to engineering and chemistry to public policy, ethics, and law. But the biggest reason nanotechnology turns me on was perhaps best summarized at a book party for me several years where Christine Peterson and Gayle Pergamit presented a wonderful introduction to nanotechnology. The world is made up of bits and stuff, Chris said. We already know how to control bits. And now we’re learning to control stuff. At the intersection between those two realms lies our ability to engineer our world from the bottom up. And that, quite simply, blows my mind.

I’d like to thank my wife Kelly Sparks for her encouragement and love; my father who ignited my love of learning; and Small Times and the UC Berkeley College of Engineering for supporting my writing endeavors. I’d also like to thank all of you in the research community for opening your cabinets of curiosity to me.

Finally, I’m especially grateful to Christine Peterson and Eric Drexler for first sharing with me the dreams that stuff is made of.

–David Pescovitz, October 12, 2002

About the Prize

This award recognizes outstanding journalistic or other communication endeavors that lead to a better public understanding of molecular nanotechnology or other key emerging technologies of high social or environmental impact.

By offering this Prize, Foresight hopes to encourage continued responsible coverage of molecular nanotechnology and other emerging technologies as a means for engaging the public in dialogue leading to improved public policy on these important issues.

The award recipient must accept in person at the Feynman Awards Banquet at the 10th Foresight Institute Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, to be held October 11-13, 2002, in Bethesda, Maryland. The winner will receive complimentary full registration including tutorial and banquet, coach airfare and up to 4 nights hotel (arranged by Foresight Institute, Sat. night stay required).

Special thanks go to the law firm of Millstein & Taylor, PC, which underwrites the Prize, and to Foresight Senior Associate Larry Millstein of that firm, who initiated this program.

Selection Criteria

Submissions will be judged on their quality in portraying subjects, themes, or incidents, or on their editorial content. They may include an individual presentation or a series of presentations that lead to a better public understanding of the contributions necessary to the development of molecular nanotechnology or other key emerging technologies of high social or environmental impact. Submissions are limited to nonfiction: print and broadcast media, including books, Internet, and film.

In general, priority will be given to those entries which display clear, unbiased, and imaginative writing and production content that lifts the story out of the routine category and gives the reader greater insight regarding the topic covered.

Preferred submissions will have:

  • Accurately and thoroughly described the underlying project or issue, including balanced treatment of technological benefits and potential risks;
  • Effectively explained how the molecular nanotechnology or other emerging technology project, or the outcome of a particular issue, will benefit the community;
  • Covered all sides of the issue fairly, in cases of controversy;
  • Clearly described the molecular nanotechnologist’s or other researcher’s role (Examples: How did researchers contribute to the project’s completion? How did researchers influence the positive outcome of key developmental issue, an environmental issue, or critical legislation?);
  • Advanced public knowledge and understanding of molecular nanotechnology or other emerging technology, our issues, and the challenges of the profession.

Entry quality will be judged on the basis of accuracy, objectivity, scope, content, and appeal.

A panel will be appointed annually by the President and Executive Director of Foresight Institute to evaluate submissions and will consist of five or more persons respected in the fields of molecular nanotechnology or other emerging technologies, at least one of whom shall also be experienced in journalism.

This panel shall select the submission that, in their judgment, best fulfills the objective, as well as two alternates. It shall include an explanation of its decision. The recommendation will then be reviewed by the Foresight Institute Board of Directors for final approval.

Nomination Procedures — deadline August 7, 2002

Nominations may be submitted by any interested individual or by the publisher, author, radio or television station, responsible for the effort.

The nomination must include either:

  1. complete identification and a copy of the article (with the necessary permission to display the piece at the Awards Banquet, should it be selected as a finalist); or
  2. complete identification of the media piece, with location and time presented, and submission of tapes, URLs, transcripts or other reasonable evidence that may be used by the panel in judging, accompanied by a 50-100 word summary of what the basic subject is and why the piece meets the objectives in an outstanding way.

The article or presentation must have been published, aired, or heard in the three calendar years preceding the submissions, which must be received no later than August 7, 2002.

It is strongly encouraged that nominations include the potential winner’s bio and list of previous work, with URLs as available.

Foresight requests that email and URLs be used as extensively as possible in all submissions.

Materials should be emailed (preferably), faxed, or mailed to:
Attn: Communications Prize
Foresight Institute
PO Box 61058
Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA
tel +1 650 917 1122
fax +1 650 917 1123
email: [email protected]