What is time?

Simple question, yes?  Indeed, but what about the answer?  Last year, actor Alan Alda, together with the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, issued a challenge to scientists and science teachers to answer the apparently simple question ‘what is a flame?’ in such a way that could be understood by an eleven-year-old.  It’s actually not that simple.  The project, called The Flame Challenge, was inspired by Alda’s own childhood scientific curiosity, and asked schools across the United States to participate and decide on a winner from the hundreds of entries.

This video here is the entertaining winner:

What is a flame


This year, the challenge was inspired by the question most commonly posed by eleven-year-olds to the Center for Communicating Science: what is time?  Even Albert Einstein struggled to describe what time is in simple terms, and often resorted to jokes:

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.

I think this is a great initiative, to take the complex explanations for the natural mechanisms we take for granted, and deliver them in an easy to understand way – easy enough even for me.


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One response to “What is time?”

  1. Peter W Skevington says :

    Fascinated by the idea of time travel, hence my interest in history and local history in particular. No great desire to travel forward in time, apart from a mischievous desire to be present at the count for Cleadon and East Boldon ward local election 2014…

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