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A Flame By Any Name

In Science, actor Alan Alda recounts having asked a teacher what a flame is, and the answer — "It's oxidation" — disappointing him. "It's just giving it another name," Alda tells The New York Times. "It's like saying, 'Well, a flame is Fred.' And that really doesn't get you anywhere." Aside from his acting career, Alda has also been involved with science communication, as host of PBS' Scientific American Frontiers, and as the founder of the Center for Communicating Science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He now proposes a challenge to scientists: "Would you be willing to have a go at writing your own explanation of what a flame is — one that an 11-year-old would find intelligible, maybe even fun?" he writes in Science. The winner will receive at VIP pass to the World Science Festival.

The Scan

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.

Unfair Targeting

Technology Review writes that a new report says the US has been unfairly targeting Chinese and Chinese-American individuals in economic espionage cases.

Limited Rapid Testing

The New York Times wonders why rapid tests for COVID-19 are not widely available in the US.

Genome Research Papers on IPAFinder, Structural Variant Expression Effects, Single-Cell RNA-Seq Markers

In Genome Research this week: IPAFinder method to detect intronic polyadenylation, influence of structural variants on gene expression, and more.