For Immediate Release                                                                                   
Contact: Kristin Tutino, (585) 258-0253

WXXI AND ROCHESTER MUSEUM & SCIENCE CENTER HOST PREVIEW SCREENING OF PBS’ THE HUMAN SPARK FOLLOWED BY A GROUP DISCUSSION ON WHAT MAKES US UNIQUELY HUMAN
January 10 Event is Free and Open to the Public

Rochester, New York (January 4, 2010) – The three-part PBS series The Human Spark, which explores the latest scientific research into what differentiates us from all other species, premieres in January on WXXI-TV. In conjunction with the national broadcast, WXXI and the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC) will host a preview screening of the series followed by a discussion with local scientists. The Human Spark Screening and Talkback, which is free and open to the public, takes place Sunday, January 10, 2010 from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. at the RMSC's Eisenhart Auditorium. Registration is required, and can be made online at: wxxi.org/humanspark or by phone at (585) 258-0200.

During the screening and talkback event guests will watch clips from The Human Spark series and then local scientists Dr. Elizabeth Perry, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) College of Science, and Dr. George McIntosh, RMSC Director of Collections will lead a discussion about paleontology and neuroscience. Dr. Perry is Director of the General Science Exploration Program at RIT where she also lectures in the School of Biological and Medical Sciences. Her published scientific work has included studies of the genetic and environmental interactions that lead to disease onset in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease/motor neuron disease) and excitotoxic neurodegeneration, autoimmunity and seizure mechanisms related to the fatal pediatric condition, Juvenile Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (JNCL/Batten Disease). Dr. McIntosh is Director of Collections at the RMSC. For more than two decades, he has pursued his dual interests in geology and public science education at RMSC, working closely with the education and exhibit departments to uphold standards of collection quality, care, and scholarly interpretation, including as the chief natural scientist, exhibition curator and collections/content specialist for the natural science exhibition, Expedition Earth.
 
The Human Spark series, hosted by actor, author, and science buff Alan Alda, airs Wednesdays, January 6-20 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable1011/cable11). The series brings Alda’s trademark humor and curiosity to an exploration of the latest scientific research into what differentiates us from all other species.
From the cave paintings of Lascaux to the plains of Kenya, from crucial chimp sanctuaries to the inner recesses of his own brain, Alda, the long-time host of the PBS series Scientific American Frontiers, observes our most defining abilities and examines how they arose. Whether he’s holding a 120,000-year-old skull in his hands, throwing spears at a plastic deer, or contemplating his ability to read other people’s minds, he brings with him a warmth and familiarity that put even the most camera-shy experts (and chimpanzees) at ease.
Major funding for The Human Spark is provided by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation. Additional funding is provided by The Winston Foundation and the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family.      

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