Alan Alda today announced the winners of Stony Brook University's Flame Challenge contest, in which scientists had to explain "what is time?" in a way that would interest and enlighten 11-year-olds.
The winners, Steven Maguire, 33, and Nicholas Williams, 71, received trophies and congratulations from Alda and hundreds of children at the "What is Time?" event at the World Science Festival in New York City. Maguire, a chemistry graduate student at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, won for the top-ranked video explanation (see above). Williams, a retired engineer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNB) in California, won for the top-ranked written answer. The entries were judged by nearly 20,000 schoolchildren around the world.
Maguire's winning video couldn't be simpler: He just looks into the "I was impressed that hundreds of scientists took up the challenge of answering such a tough question posed by 11-year-olds," said Alda, a visiting professor at the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. "And it was touching to see how thoughtfully and seriously the kids went about judging the entries. Their thoughts about communicating science are valuable feedback that can help scientists and the public carry on a real conversation."