Physics & Engineering Festival Features Hands-On Fun, Astronauts
COLLEGE STATION —
The Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University invite the Brazos Valley community to get up-close and personal with science and technology later this month at the 2011 Physics & Engineering Festival, an entertaining and informative weekend scientific extravaganza for all ages.
No fees or tickets are required for the free annual event, scheduled for Saturday, March 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Buildings on the Texas A&M campus. All events are sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Aerospace Engineering, the Texas A&M College of Science, the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, and The Association of Former Students.
Activities will begin at 10 a.m. with hands-on science exhibitions and engineering technology demonstrations and conclude with an interactive public lecture at 4 p.m. by NASA astronaut Dr. Richard M. Linnehan, DVM, MPA, who flew on four Space Shuttle missions and also spent time on the International Space Station.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists aboard a square-wheeled bicycle and to try their hands at generating electricity or shooting balloons with lasers — three of roughly 100 fun experiments and displays illustrating basic scientific and engineering technology-related concepts and principles. All exhibits are manned by Texas A&M faculty, staff and students, including representatives from the Departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biochemistry and Biophysics.
In addition to exhibits, the daylong festival will feature three fantastic bubble shows (11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.) by internationally acclaimed bubble artist and physics showman Keith Michael Johnson, whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel and in “USA Today” and “Real Simple Family.” Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet NASA astronaut Dr. Charles J. Camarda, a former flight engineer and science officer aboard the International Space Station, in two afternoon question-and-answer sessions scheduled for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
At 3 p.m., Dr. Peter M. McIntyre, Texas A&M professor of physics and astronomy, will present “Green Nuclear Power Technology for the New Millennium” in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium. Against the real-world backdrop of the current nuclear crisis in Japan, McIntyre will explain how Texas A&M scientists are developing a new, green nuclear power technology that can burn the spent nuclear fuel from today’s power plants to produce 10 times more energy than was yet extracted from them. The accelerator-driven subcritical molten-salt (ADSMS) technology meets all of the criteria that define a truly green energy technology.
Finally at 4 p.m., Linnehan will present “My Experiences Flying on the Space Shuttle and Space Station” in the primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. In addition to detailing his adventures in orbit, Linnehan will share many images, both from his personal collection and the Hubble Space Telescope archive.
Linnehan, a veterinarian trained in comparative pathophysiology who has logged more than 58 days in space, is currently on temporary assignment with The Texas A&M University System as director for space science, policy and education through a unique partnership intended to help reinvigorate space-related research critical to NASA’s current and future mission. Selected by NASA in 1992, he flew his first Space Shuttle mission in 1996 aboard STS-78, the Life Sciences and Microgravity Spacelab mission. His four space flights aboard Space Shuttles Columbia and Endeavour included visits to the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station as well as six EVAs (spacewalks) totaling 42 hours and 11 minutes. Prior to joining NASA, Linnehan earned his doctorate of veterinary medicine from The Ohio State University in 1985 and was later accepted to a two-year joint internship in zoo animal medicine and comparative pathology at the Baltimore Zoo and The Johns Hopkins University. Following his internship, he was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, where he became chief clinical veterinarian for the U.S. Navy’s Marine Mammal Program.
Camarda, an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics who has logged more than 333 hours in space, was selected by NASA in 1996. His past assignments include: technical duties in the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems/Operations Branch; the Expedition-8 back-up crew; Director, Engineering, Johnson Space Center; and NASA Engineering and Safety Center, where he was responsible for evaluating problems and supplementing safety and engineering activities for Agency programs. Camarda flew as a Mission Specialist-5 on the Return-to-Flight mission STS-114 Discovery in 2005 during which the shuttle docked with the International Space Station and tested and evaluated new procedures for flight safety as well as Shuttle inspection and repair techniques. Camarda, who earned his doctorate in aerospace engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1990, currently serves as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Office of Chief Engineer at Johnson Space Center.
McIntyre, who has held the Mitchell-Heep Chair in Experimental High-Energy Physics since 2004, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1980 and leads programs of research in high energy physics, accelerator physics and superconductor technology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1973. He performed experiments with colliding beams at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, until 1975, then joined Harvard University and participated in neutrino scattering experiments at Fermilab. In 1976 he was the first to propose making colliding beams of protons and antiprotons using the large synchrotrons at Fermilab and at CERN. He developed several techniques for cooling intense beams of antiprotons for that purpose. McIntyre is a key collaborator in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN as well as the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), which are searching for the top quark and seeking evidence of the Higgs field and supersymmetry. He was named a Sloan Fellow in 1980-82 and a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2001.
Prior to Saturday’s events, Dr. John L. Junkins, distinguished professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M, will deliver a free public lecture, “Close Encounters with Asteroid Apophis: Challenges and Opportunities” on Friday (Mar. 25) at 7 p.m. in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the event, in which Junkins will discuss Earth’s impending dates with astronomical destiny — close encounters with the 1,000-foot asteroid Apophis in 2029 and 2036 — and the interesting learning opportunities each presents for astronomers and aerospace engineers.
Junkins, a Regents Professor and holder of the Royce E. Wisenbaker Chair, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1985 and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, as well as a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Astronautical Society (AAS). His prolific and fundamental research advances in engineering mechanics and spacecraft dynamics, navigation, guidance and control have supported more than a dozen spaceflight missions and are documented in more than 300 publications, including five textbooks. Junkins’ many awards and honors include the AIAA G. Edward Pendray Aerospace Literature Award (1990), the Auburn University College of Engineering Outstanding Aerospace Engineering Alumnus Award (1991), the Sigma Xi Distinguished Scientist Award (1992), the AIAA Theodore Von Karman Medal and Lectureship (1997), the International Astronautical Federation Frank J. Malina Medal (1999), the Institute of Navigation Tycho Brahe Award (2004), the AIAA Aerospace Guidance, Navigation and Control Award (2006) and the International Conference on Computational and Experimental Engineering and Sciences (ICCES) Lifetime Achievement Medal (2010). Junkins holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles, all in aerospace engineering.
For the latest details regarding the 2011 Physics & Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, please visit http://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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