WGBH Educational Foundation

To support the production and associated marketing and promotion of four prime time American Experience documentary films about the role of science and technology in history

  • Amount $2,000,000
  • City Boston, MA
  • Investigator Mark Samels
  • Year 2019
  • Program Public Understanding
  • Sub-program Television

This grant provides support to WGBH Educational Foundation to research, produce, and broadcast four science- and technology-themed episodes on its popular, award-winning documentary history series American Experience. The four shows are “The Poison Squad,” based on Deborah Blum’s book about Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, chief chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose dogged efforts to test the health effects of popular chemical food additives led to modern standards of food safety; “The Man Who Tried to Feed the World,” about Norman Borlaug, an Iowa agronomist who introduced innovative breeding techniques for wheat and overcame many obstacles to help feed millions in Mexico, Pakistan, and India; “The Codebreaker,” about Elizabeth Smith Friedman, cryptanalyst-in-charge for the U.S. Treasury Department, whose codebreaking skills helped bring down a Nazi spy network in South America; and “Mr. Tornado,” about Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita, professor of meteorology at the University of Chicago, who proved that tornadoes were not random but predictable and whose discovery of microbursts—intense downdrafts that caused airplanes to suddenly drop from the sky—led to life-saving advances in aviation.

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