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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“Students, faculty to make physics ‘phun'”

Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat
This Van De Graf Gnerator builds up charge in the sphere. The excess charge in the sphere is transfered to the volunteer whose hair is shown standing on end. This is because each strand of hair has a net charge that is the same as the net charge of neighboring strands of hair. The repulsion is really caused by the fact that like charges repel, so all the likely charges hairs on the head of the volunteer tend toward the furthest distance they can be from one another.
Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat This Van De Graf Gnerator builds up charge in the sphere. The excess charge in the sphere is transfered to the volunteer whose hair is shown standing on end. This is because each strand of hair has a net charge that is the same as the net charge of neighboring strands of hair. The repulsion is really caused by the fact that like charges repel, so all the likely charges hairs on the head of the volunteer tend toward the furthest distance they can be from one another.

Faculty and students will set out to prove that physics is not just for the classroom and lab at tonight’s Physics Phun Nite.

“”It’s just an opportunity to have some fun and share with the public what we’re doing here, maybe spark somebody’s interest in physics,”” said Larry Hoffman, a senior physics lab coordinator who has been organizing the two-night event for the past 15 years.

In previous years, faculty and students performed demonstrations with a hovercraft, a rocket cart and a Tesla coil.

Because the event is a live show, Hoffman said there is always the possibility that a performance may not work the way it should.

“”We had one professor one year, Dr. Kurt Just. … His intention was to tangle himself up in these ropes and smoothly untangle himself,”” Hoffman said. “”He just wound up with a big knot. … He was able to get himself out of it eventually. It just took him a lot longer than anticipated.””

This is the second year that faculty and students from Pima Community College and the UA are collaborating on the event, according to physics sophomore Amy Gladwin.

“”One of the main ideas of the event is to get the whole community to come to the U of A and just see what kind of things they can do with science,”” said Gladwin, who also performs physics demonstrations during Second Saturdays in downtown Tucson.

“”For a few of the demos, we might call for volunteers from the audience,”” Hoffman said.

Gladwin said one of the demonstrations to be performed tonight that will require “”a brave volunteer”” is the bowling ball pendulum. A bowling ball hung from the ceiling will swing back and forth — starting from the volunteer’s face.

While performers will ask the audience questions and explain physics principles to them, Hoffman and Gladwin both said the event is geared toward a general audience.

The second Physics Phun Nite will be held Dec. 3.

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