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The actor known for his Emmy-Award-winning work on the TV show "MASH," is a founder of the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University on eastern Long Island.

Alda tells The Associated Press the center is sponsoring a contest asking scientists to explain, in terms a sixth-grader could understand: "What is time?"

Well-known for his affinity for science, Alda is the longtime host of PBS's "Scientific American Frontiers." He says society must have a better understanding of science.

This is the contest's second year. Last year, scientists were asked to explain what a flame is.

Alda says he was 11 years old when he asked a teacher that question and got an answer he didn't understand.