Thursday, June 07, 2012

What is a Flame

Ben Ames won a contest to make a short film explaining in simple terms what a flame is. From NYT:
  • The contest grew out of a question — “What is a flame?” — that the actor Alan Alda asked his teacher when he was 11. The teacher could only answer, “It’s oxidation.”
  • The answer, while correct, was meaningless — jargon without context. Despite that disappointment, Mr. Alda has remained interested in science, serving as host of the PBS program “Scientific American Frontiers” and playing a leading role in establishing the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
  • When the journal Science asked Mr. Alda to write an editorial on the importance of scientists’ communicating what they do, Mr. Alda cast out the flame question as a challenge to explain the complicated in everyday words. The Stony Brook center set up a Web site to collect entries.
I wanted to know what a flame is, too. So I watched.


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