Alda shared what he called his best examples of clear communication with Tomlinson and his fellow teaching assistants.
About a decade ago, Alda said, he was in Chile filming a segment for "Scientific American Frontiers" when he was stricken with sharp stomach pains. He was evacuated from an 8,000-foot observatory and taken in an old rickety ambulance to a small, dimly lit clinic, where a doctor examined him and said he would require life-saving surgery.
"Some of your intestine has gone bad, and we have to cut out the bad part and sew the two good ends together," the physician explained.
"And I said, 'You're going to do an end-to-end anastamosis.' He said, 'How do you know that?' And I said, 'Oh, I did many of them on 'M.A.S.H.' That was the first operation I learned about on M.A.S.H.'"
After the classroom erupted in laughter, Alda concluded:
"He didn't waste any time on me trying to figure what he was talking about. He said it in the clearest terms possible. He didn't sacrifice any accuracy by making it clear."