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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Department hosts physics ‘phun’

    Fire reacting to sound, electronic transference, static electricity and liquid nitrogen were just a few of the things that wowed audience members at Friday’s 14th annual Physics Phun Nite.

    The evening, organized by the physics department to inspire young students to get more interested in the subject, had several displays that demonstrated “”events you might see in a classroom if you were to take a physics class here,”” said Larry Hoffman, physics laboratory coordinator. “”But they’re done in a way that they’re more entertaining than they would be in a classroom,”” he added.

    About sixteen demonstrations were featured in front of a standing-room-only crowd, ranging from lighting a fire with electricity, electric charges shooting a ring to the ceiling, and the lighting of a fluorescent bulb without touching it to a power source.

    “”(We) try to make it interesting for the public,”” Hoffman added.

    While the majority of the audience was made up of pre-college students, nearly everyone was awed by at least one demonstration.

    “”What the idea is, is that all the professors who teach here, they demonstrate with all sorts of things. But a few of them have their favorite demonstrations which are really interesting and exciting; and the little kids, even five-year-olds, think it’s great and the 105-year-olds think it’s great,”” said William Bickel, physics professor.

    Even though the principles behind the demonstration have a multi-tiered complexity attached to them, Bickel said “” … to see it and to see the so-called magic of it would be appreciated by everybody.

    “”These are absolute demonstrations to demonstrate fundamental science in front of pre-meds, freshmen and seniors … and cover all of the areas of physics,”” he said.

    The popular event, begun by faculty members, was created in order to demonstrate some of the interesting effects of physics, said Bickel. He added that some of the audience members will wonder how they can get involved into this type of learning environment, which was another important point of the event.

    “”So it can be some rather sophisticated observational phenomenon which is very, very striking but yet it’s not obvious what happens. And it not being obvious is what the point is: ‘Well I never thought that would happen,’ Well, welcome to physics,”” Bickel said.

    Tucson resident Trinity Donovan said he enjoyed the demonstrations about fire.

    “”I didn’t know that sound could affect fire the way it did,”” he said. Donovan, 31, added that this type of event would have definitely encouraged him to go to college to study physics. “”Only if I were a little younger,”” he joked.

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