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Science World - The Best of Science World

When actor Alan Alda was 11 years old he found himself quite fascinated with the flame burning at the end of a candle.   Curious, he asked his teacher - 'what's a flame?'  Hoping for a clear and concise answer, the teacher instead came back at him with just a one word answer - oxidation.   Years later Mr. Alda decided to challenge scientists around the world to explain what a flame is in terms that an 11 year old could comprehend.   The challenge was called "the Flame Challenge," named after that elusive question asked so long ago. Years ago Leroy Hood along with his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology developed 4 instruments that helped pave the way for the successful mapping of the human genome. Dr. Hood's latest passion is in developing various strategies, technologies and knowledge that he thinks will lead to new methods of how the science of medicine is practiced.  He calls his new approach P4 Medicine which stands for predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory medicine. When Autar Kaw was a young man, attending college in his native India, like many college students, he didn't have much money, which meant that he had limited access to necessary but expensive textbooks.  Today, he is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of South Florida. But he never forgot the hardships that he faced during those early years at college.  To help engineering students with limited financial resources, Professor Kaw created a free, online collection of college courseware. Government agencies along with other organizations are to keeping an eye on threatening space objects such as asteroids.  The B612 foundation is a private non-governmental organization that was founded in 2001 by a group of notable scientists, including two former NASA astronauts. The foundation is working on a mission that they say will harness the power of science and technology to help protect our planet. Russell "Rusty" Schweickart, a former NASA astronaut, and one of the founders of this organization, talks about the threat of near earth objects and how the B612 foundation plans to help locate and protect Earth from these threats.