Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Flame Challenge

Brevity is the soul of wit~Carl Zimmer.

The Flame Challenge is aimed at explaining what a flame is to a bunch of 11-year-olds.
 For some of you who think that it's easy, you're dead wrong. 
Just because you've seen flames all your life doesn't mean you can explain what it is to a fellow economist or accountant--it has to be simple enough for them to understand, and at the same time include all the complex scientific concepts.

This is a challenge faced by science writers everyday-how to use everyday language to convey insights that scientists describe to each other. Words like atoms, electrons, and nucleus are usually enough to repel the most avid of non experts. And most 11-year-olds nowadays have cell phones, X-Box, and Facebook to distract them. Hooking up their interest in science is getting harder by the day.
The winner of this competition is Ben Ames, a 31-year-old American doing graduate work in quantum optics. For those of you who wish to learn what a flame actually is, you can watch the youtube video here.


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