World Science Festival and Paley Center Present

Alan Alda’s Burning Question: What Is a Flame?

Jun 1, 2012
4:00 PM ET
New York

Winning Entry:

Actor and science advocate Alan Alda invites scientists, teachers, and others who care about science communication to join in the discussion of one of the vital questions of our time: how to help society understand science better. Alan will report on intriguing—and sometimes surprising—results from the Flame Challenge, a worldwide contest that asked scientists to explain a flame in terms that would engage an eleven-year-old.

6,000 eleven-year-olds judged the entries—you will see the finalists' entries at the event—but their responses provide lessons for scientists communicating with audiences of any age. We will discuss innovative techniques pioneered by the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, where scientists are learning communication skills as a fundamental part of their science education.

This event is part of the 2012 World Science Festival Salon series, which offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival's premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and well-informed members of the general public.

The World Science Festival returns to New York City, May 30 to June 3, with more than 50 extraordinary events and performances designed to make the esoteric understandable and the familiar fascinating. Now in its fifth year, the 2012 Festival brings together many of the world’s leading scientific minds with renowned artists and influential thinkers for a five-day celebration that, through discourse and debate, conversation and performance, allows everyone—kids and adults, novice and enthusiast—to experience science in a unique and thrilling way. For tickets, schedule of events and live streaming coverage, go to


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