Actor challenges scientists: Explain sleep to kids

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Actor challenges scientists: Explain sleep to kids
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Alan Alda attends Alan Alda's Flame Challenge Announcement at The Paley Center for Media on June 1, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for World Science Festival)
M.A.S.H. (TV) MASH (ALT) ALAN ALDA, MIKE FARRELL MTV 036
M.A.S.H. (TV) MASH (ALT) ALAN ALDA MTV 019
ALAN ALDA (DIR) O/S M.A.S.H. (TV) ALAL 001 OS
ALAN ALDA US film and television actor
ER (TV) ALAN ALDA CREDIT NBC
M.A.S.H. (TV) MASH (ALT) ALAN ALDA, MIKE FARRELL MTV 027
M.A.S.H. (TV) MASH (ALT) GARY BURGHOFF, ALAN ALDA MTV 033
M.A.S.H. (TV) MASH (ALT) MIKE FARRELL, ALAN ALDA MTV 002
K36043ML.GUILD HALL ACADEMY OF ARTS LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS HONORING MORITMER B. ZUCKERMAN FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AT THE RAINBOW ROOM IN NEW YORK New York .3/8/2004. / 2004.ALEC BALDWIN AND ALAN ALDA(Credit Image: © Mitchell Levy/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Oct. 13, 2006 - New York, New York, U.S. - K55124RM.NY TIMES GREAT LITERARY BRUNCH .AT TIMES CENTER ON W 41ST, NEW YORK New York 10-14-2007.ALAN ALDA. - 2007.(Credit Image: © Rick Mackler/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: Actor Alan Alda attends the Premiere Screening Of The HBO Special Alan Alda: YoungArts MasterClass With Discussion By Alda And YoungArts Alumni on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Janette Pellegrini/Getty Images for National YoungArts Foundation)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - OCTOBER 12: Actor Alan Alda attends the 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival on October 12, 2014 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for The Hamptons International Film Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13: Alan Alda attends the opening night celebration of 'Love Letters' at Brasserie 8 1/2 on November 13, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: (L-R) Actor Alan Alda and Arlene Alda attend the Premiere Screening Of The HBO Special Alan Alda: YoungArts MasterClass With Discussion By Alda And YoungArts Alumni on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Janette Pellegrini/Getty Images for National YoungArts Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Writer/Actor Alan Alda attends the VIP reception for 'Dear Albert: A Reading for the Stage' at the 7th Annual World Science Festival at the NYU Skirball Center on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Writer/Actor Alan Alda on stage during a post performance discussion of 'Dear Albert: A Reading for the Stage' at the 7th Annual World Science Festival at the NYU Skirball Center on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images)
THE BLACKLIST -- 'Berlin Conclusion' Episode 121 -- Pictured: Alan Alda as Mr. Fitch -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Physicist Brian Greene and Writer/Actor Alan Alda on stage during a post performance discussion of 'Dear Albert: A Reading for the Stage' at the 7th Annual World Science Festival at the NYU Skirball Center on May 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: Alan Alda attends the World Science Festival Gala on April 7, 2014 in New York, New York. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Hilaria Baldwin, actor Alec Baldwin, and actor Alan Alda attend The Guild Hall of East Hampton: Academy Of The Arts Lifetime Achievement Awards at Sotheby's on March 10, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Actor Alan Alda co-hosts the Homeward Bound Telethon at the American Legion Hall #43 on November 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 03: Actor Alan Alda is interviewed during the HBO Documentary Films New York Premiere of '50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. & Mrs. Kraus' at HBO Screening Room on April 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Actor Alan Alda attends the 40th International Emmy Awards on November 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 13: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Actor Alan Alda attends the NBA game between the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on February 13, 2013 in New York City. The Raptors defeated the Knicks 92-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Special Founders award winner Alan Alda attends the 40th International Emmy Awards at Mercury Ballroom at the New York Hilton on November 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 13: Alan Alda attends 'Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?' Broadway Opening Night at Booth Theatre on October 13, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
CAMBRIDGE, MA- OCTOBER 6: Alan Alda goes over some notes before the American Academy Of Arts And Sciences Induction Ceremony 2012 at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, on October 6, 2012 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: Alan Alda attends Alan Alda's Flame Challenge Announcement at The Paley Center for Media on June 1, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for World Science Festival)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01: (L-R) Flame Challenge Finalists, Richardo Frauenglass, Deborah Berebichez, Jeanne Garabino, Paul Ginart and Ben Ames with Alan Alda attend Alan Alda's Flame Challenge Announcement at The Paley Center for Media on June 1, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for World Science Festival)
US actor Alan Alda visits the 'Atlas' experimental area at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), near Geneva, on March 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/KEYSTONE/Pool/Salvatore Di Nolfi (Photo credit should read SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Alan Alda (L) visits with physicist Steven Goldfarb (R) the 'Atlas' experimental area at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), near Geneva, on March 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/KEYSTONE/Pool/Salvatore Di Nolfi (Photo credit should read SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Alan Alda (L) visits with Herve Genoud, Operator of control, the CERN Control Centre (CCC) where the operators prepare the commissioning of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), near Geneva, on March 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/KEYSTONE/Pool/Salvatore Di Nolfi (Photo credit should read SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP/Getty Images)
US actor Alan Alda visits the 'Atlas' experimental area at the European Particle Physics laboratory (CERN), near Geneva, on March 7, 2012. AFP PHOTO/KEYSTONE/Pool/Salvatore Di Nolfi (Photo credit should read SALVATORE DI NOLFI/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: Actor Alan Alda speaks during a Q & A at a screening of 'Wanderlust' at the Lincoln Center Theater on February 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 594 -- Pictured: (l-r) Alan Alda during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on February 22, 2012 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) David Wain, Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Kerri Kenney and Alan Alda speak during a Q & A at a screening of 'Wanderlust' at the Lincoln Center Theater on February 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo, actor Alan Alda listens during an interview at Stony Brook University, on New York's Long Island. The film and television star is trying to encourage scientists of all disciplines to ditch the jargon and speak in plain English. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo, actor Alan Alda enlists the help of Sujata Pawagi during a Communicating Science class on the campus of Stony Brook University, on New York's Long Island. The film and television star is trying to encourage scientists of all disciplines to ditch the jargon and speak in plain English. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
FILE - In this April 26, 2013 file photo, actor and sometimes science professor Alan Alda addresses a Communicating Science class on the campus of Stony Brook University, on New York's Long Island. Alan Alda is now posing the question "How do you explain color to an 11-year-old?," to scientists around the world. It’s part of a contest he started three years ago called the “Flame Challenge,” to encourage scientists to find better ways of clearly explaining how science works to the general public. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Actor Alan Alda poses with a dummy during a break in taping the PBS series "Scientific American Frontiers." Alda, the series host, performs an autopsy on the "alien" creature as part of a series special called "Beyond Science?," which airs Nov. 19 at 8 p.m., EST. (AP Photo/PBS)
Actor Alan Alda poses in Central Park on October 4, 2005. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper)
** FILE ** In this Sept. 7, 2008 file photo, actor Alan Alda from the film "Flash of Genius," poses for a portrait during the International Film Festival in Toronto. (AP Photo/Carlo Allegri, file)
Actor Alan Alda, left, host of the television science program "Scientific American Frontiers," has a laugh with Craig Mundie, right, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft Corp., Tuesday, March 4, 2008, as the two take part in a public discussion at Microsoft Corp.'s annual TechFest, in Redmond, Wash. TechFest is intended to demonstrate experimental and upcoming technology from Microsoft researchers. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Actor Alan Alda attends the gala screening of "Nothing But The Truth" during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, Sept. 8, 2008 in Toronto. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)
Actor Alan Alda at Screen Actors Guild in September 1980. (AP Photo)
Actor Alan Alda on TV program, M*A*S*H, Sept. 15, 1982. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Alan Alda at the 34th Annual Emmy Awards Banquet in Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, Sept. 19, 1982. He is the Star of TV series ?M*A*S*H?. (AP Photo)
A crew member holds up a clacker as some of the actors it to begin filming the final shot of the hit television series, ?M*A*S*H,? in Los Angeles on Jan. 14 1983. From left are Loretta Swit (Maj. Margret ?Hot Lips? Houlihan): Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut); and David Ogden Stiers (Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III). The last episode of ?M*A*S*H? airs on CBS, Monday, Feb. 28, concluding the seventh and final season. (AP Photo/Lennox McLendon)
Actor Alan Alda, in character as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce during final season taping of ?M-A-S-H? television series, will soon end his career as the irreverent, skirt-chasing Hawkeye as ?M-A-S-H? ends its 11-year run. The series? last scene will be filmed Friday on a Los Angeles studio lot, Jan. 13, 1983. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Actor Alan Alda, in character as Capt. Hawkeye Pierce during final season taping of ?M-A-S-H? television series, Jan. 13, 1983 will soon end his career as the irreverent, skirt-chasing Hawkeye as ?M-A-S-H? ends its 11-year run. The series? last scene will be filmed on Friday on a Los Angeles studio lot. (AP Photo/Wally Fong)
Jamie Farr, left, plugs his ears, David Ogden Stiers, standing right, shows alarm and members of the M*A*S*H television series cast watch with delight as Harry Morgan eases cork out of a bottle of champagne during a party on the set of the popular CBS program in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 1981. Party marked the beginning of the show?s 10th year on the air. Other cast members include Mike Farrell, standing left, Alan Alda, center, Loretta Swit and William Christopher, seated right. (AP Photo/Huynh)
Actress Linda Lavin and actor Alan Alda whop it up after winning their Golden Globe Awards at the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations 1980 Golden Globe Awards show, Saturday, Jan. 26, 1980 in Los Angeles. Ms. Lavin won Best Television Actress-Comedy or Musical for her roll in ?Alice,? while Alda won Best Television Actor-Comedy or Musical for his part in ?M*A*S*H.? (AP Photo/Brich)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 03: Alan Alda attends NY Premiere of HBO's 'Wynton Marsalis: A Youngarts Masterclass' at Museum of Modern Art on September 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Actor Alan Alda attends the 2013 Stars Of Stony Brook Gala at Pier 60 on April 24, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)
KATIE - Alan Alda is a guest on KATIE, 12/14/12, distributed by Disney-ABC Domestic Television. (Photo by Donna Svennevik/Disney-ABC via Getty Images) KATIE COURIC, ALAN ALDA
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Kathie Lee Gifford, Alan Alda, Simon O' Rourke and Hoda Kotb appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee Gifford, Alan Alda and Simon O' Rourke appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 01: Alan Alda and guest (L) attend the Portland Trail Blazers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on January 1, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/FilmMagic)
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MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) - Actor-turned-part-time professor Alan Alda has a new challenge for scientists: Explain sleep to an 11-year-old.

The TV and film star best known for his role in the 1970s sitcom "M.A.S.H." has had a lifelong interest in science.

The New York native teaches at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University on Long Island.

He started the annual "Flame Challenge" contest in 2011. It asks scientists to explain complex concepts in ways a child can understand.

The first year sought an answer to "What is a flame?" That was followed by challenges to explain time and color.

Scientists have until Feb. 13 to submit their answers about sleep in writing, video or graphics.

The winning written and video or graphic entries will receive $1,000 cash prizes.

Earlier on AOL.com:

Alan Alda: 'If We Could Eradicate Polio, Why Can't We Eradicate Misogyny?'

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