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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Physics Department has ‘phun’ with annual show, showcases experiments

Michelle A. Monroe
Michelle A. Monroe / Arizona Daily Wildcat University of Arizona Police Department officials gave awards to UA employees and one student who helped them solve crimes or arrest people.

The UA community will get a chance to see the magic behind physics this Friday at an annual show.

The UA Physics Department’s Physics Phun Night, held at the Physics and Atmospheric Sciences building in room 201, will feature physics experiments and demonstrations for the general public.

Faculty from both the UA and Pima Community College, as well as UA students, will gather at 7 p.m. to perform their favorite physics experiments, said Shawn Jackson, a physics lecturer who will be emceeing the event.

Some demonstrations will involve Tesla coils, which produce high-voltage electrical currents, a bed of nails and a levitating chair, said Larry Hoffman, a senior laboratory coordinator in the Department of Physics and the organizer of the Physics Phun Night. Hoffman has been organizing the event every year since 1996 and said this year will also feature a demonstration about the effects of light pollution and how to mitigate them.

The experiments demonstrated at the event are projects students work on for class, said William Bickel, a professor emeritus who has been participating in the event for the past 20 years. Bickel will be performing an experiment in which he presents several optical illusions. He said the featured demonstrations are fun and engaging for the whole audience.

“We pick demonstrations that are really easy to see from the back row,” Bickel said.

Bickel said that one of his past experiments involved placing two balls of the same size, one black and one white, on two arrows of separate lengths. The white ball was placed on the longer arrow and the black ball on the shorter arrow, causing the white ball to appear larger. He said he remembers one young girl in the front row who could not believe that the two balls were actually the same size.

“Our audience is a lot of kids, and we cater to them,” Bickel said, “but everyone in the audience has a good time.”

Hoffman said he expects a good turnout because the auditorium, which can hold up to 400 people, has been filled in previous years. The department has even held two Physics Phun Nights in one year due to its popularity.

The Department of Physics has been hosting these Physics Phun Nights for more than 20 years, Jackson said.

Hoffman said the goal of the event is to show the community what the department is doing and “share our enthusiasm for science.”

The crowd is always enthusiastic about the demonstrations and the event is meant for the entire community, adults and children alike, according to Bickel.

“It’s like a magic show,” Bickel said. “Almost.”

If you go:

Physics Phun Night

Physics and Atmospheric Sciences, Room 201

Friday, 7 p.m.

– Follow Ethan McSweeney @ethanmcsweeney

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