The Science Network’s first show is a seminar featuring the world’s pre-eminent embryonic-stem-cell researchers, including Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep, and Jamie Thomson, who isolated the first embryonic stem cell.

The creators of the program, titled Stem Cells: Science, Ethics and Politics at the Crossroads, include Nobel Prize winners who hope to elucidate the complicated matter of embryonic stem cells for regular folks. They are pretty much preaching to the choir by broadcasting mainly in California, where state residents will vote in November on a ballot proposition that would throw $3 billion at stem-cell research, including controversial embryonic stem-cell studies. The program is a test drive of a bigger effort to encourage a better understanding of science in a media landscape that thrives on sound bites.

“This is a demo — we want to see if we can eventually give people a gold-standard source of scientific information,” said Roger Bingham, a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute and founder of the Science Network. Bingham also has a few science documentaries under his belt, including the acclaimed PBS series, The Human Quest, which he created and hosted.

Bingham plans to offer edited programs, such as science biographies and science teacher features. But despite its unedited form, heavy reliance on PowerPoint presentations and use of words like “pluripotent” and “organogenesis,” the fact that stem-cell research is the topic might mean that people will actually watch the Science Network’s first effort, which is also available at the network’s website.

And they should, if for no other reason than to become educated voters. Larry Goldstein, a professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California at San Diego, gives a primer on embryonic stem cells and therapeutic cloning, also known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, that even a die-hard Survivor watcher would understand.

More here.