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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

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.