What is a flame?
If you can explain that, on a level that an 11-year-old can understand, then you could win a VIP pass to the World Science Festival, May 30 to June 3 in New York City.
This is one of those questions that is harder to answer than it first appears. Alan Alda, the man behind this contest, asked his teacher that question when he was 11. Her answer, "It’s oxidation," meant nothing to him. So this contest isn't just about accuracy, it's about communication.
I often hear people complain about journalists and science popularizers "dumbing down" the science. And I suppose that's something reasonable to complain about, if what you mean is that those people are getting the science grossly wrong.
But that's not usually what "dumbing down" means. In fact, most of the time, when somebody is complaining about a dumbing down of anything, I've found that what they mean is that the topic has been made accessible and entertaining to a broad audience. Dumbing down means taking the information beyond the experts and enthusiasts, and convincing people that this is a topic they should be interested in. That's not a bad thing. It just means that there are different ways to reach different people with the same information.
To me, that's what this contest is about. Explain a flame—without using jargon—and make the science behind it capture a kid's imagination. That's not easy. It will take some dumbing down. But I think some of you can do this. And I'm excited to see the results.
Entries can be turned in as text, video, audio, or graphics. But they're due by April 2, so get to work!
Enter Alan Alda's Flame Challenge
Via Lauren Wolf
Image: Flames, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from juniorvelo's photostream
The largest all-sky survey of celestial objects ever made by humans was released this month, using data from The European Space Agency (ESA)’s Gaia satellite.
We know that pigeons are capable of becoming crafty drug smugglers or connoisseurs of fine art, but now we know they can kind of tell when we’re making up words.
The legendary cup, designed to punish greedy drinkers, explained masterfully by Salad Fingers’ dad Sir Martyn Poliakoff. His YouTube channel is packed with similarly excellent videos wherein lab assistant Neil is persuaded to execute unnerving experiments. (previously.)
Vaping is getting more mainstream by the day, which means there’s been an influx of quality yet affordable vaporizers on the market. We’re particularly excited about the APX Wax Vaporizer Kit, which is an easy-to-use, high-quality vape that works with both dry herbs and waxy concentrates.If you’re a beginner trying to get into vaping, the APX […]
When you’ve had a long day and it’s time to unwind, there’s a lot you can do to relax: drink some tea, take a shower or even read a book. But there’s one thing that’s essential to a comfortable night’s rest—and that’s investing in some really good sheets. Enter Bamboo Bed Sheets. These quality sheets retail for $120, but […]
The Avantree Powerhouse 4 Port Fast USB Charging Station brings high quality, high power, and still keeps your work space or home looking neat and organized. The best part about this charger is its capacity. It comes packing 4 USB charging sockets and a powerful 4.5A/22.5W output.. Its smartport technology means you don’t have to worry about frying your battery, either—it […]