Physics Festival Features Universal Fun, Experiments, Astronaut
COLLEGE STATION —
The Departments of Physics and 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 as part of Physics & Engineering Festival 2009, 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 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum Center on the Texas A&M campus. All events are sponsored by the Departments of Physics and Aerospace Engineering, the Texas A&M College of Science and the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy.
Activities will begin with a hands-on science exhibition and engineering technology demonstrations and conclude with an interactive public lecture by world-famous planet discoverer Dr. Geoffrey W. Marcy, an adjunct professor at San Francisco State University and a professor of astronomy at University of California-Berkeley. In addition, attendees will have the opportunity to meet NASA astronaut Dr. Gregory Chamitoff, a former flight engineer and science officer aboard the International Space Station, and to participate in a discussion on climate change conducted by renowned expert Dr. Gerald R. North, distinguished professor of atmospheric sciences and oceanography at Texas A&M.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists aboard a homemade hovercraft or square-wheeled bicycle and to try out working models of historic artillery and other 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.
At 4 p.m., Marcy will present “Searching for Other Earths and Life in the Universe” in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. The lecture, which will detail humankind’s fascination with the heavens during the past four centuries and the current race to discover inhabited words and extraterrestrial life, is the second event in the year-long International Year of Astronomy (IYA) Texas Speakers’ Series, jointly sponsored by the astronomy programs at Texas A&M and The University of Texas to commemorate IYA, the world-wide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical use of the telescope in 1609.
Prior to Saturday’s events, world-renowned theoretical physicist Dr. Gordon Kane of the University of Michigan will deliver a free public lecture, “Particle Acceleration, Cosmology, and String Theory: Understanding the Universe” on Friday (Mar. 27) at 6:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. Tickets are not required for the event, in which Kane will explain the intimate connection between the world’s tiniest particles and our Universe. He also will discuss the science behind the upcoming movie “Angels and Demons,” which involves a plot to destroy the Vatican using antimatter produced by the Large Hadron Collider.
Marcy graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1976. After earning his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of California-Santa Cruz in 1982, he spent two years as a Carnegie Fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington (1982-84), followed by 15 years as an associate professor of physics and astronomy (1984-96) and a distinguished university professor (1997-99) at San Francisco State University. In 2005, he was honored as a co-recipient of the $1 million Shaw Prize in Astronomy.
Kane is the Victor Weisskopf Collegiate Professor of Physics, director of the Center for Theoretical Physics and an adjunct professor in the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. He has written nearly 200 research papers in particle physics and cosmology and delivered as many talks at national and international meetings. In addition, he has authored or edited eight books — including two for a general audience — as well as three articles for “Scientific American.”
Chamitoff, who joined Mission Operations at Johnson Space Center (JSC) in 1995, was selected by NASA for the Astronaut Class of 1998. He started training in August 1998 and qualified for flight assignment as a Mission Specialist in 2000. While at JSC, he developed software applications for spacecraft attitude control monitoring, prediction, analysis and maneuver optimization. One of these applications is the 3D “big screen” display of the Station and Shuttle used by Mission Control. In 2008, Chamitoff served 179 days tour of duty aboard the International Space Station as Expedition 17-18 ISS Flight Engineer and Science Officer. He launched to the station with the crew of STS-124 on May 31, 2008, docking with the station on June 2, 2008. He returned to Earth on shuttle mission STS-126, having logged a total of 183 days in space.
North, holder of the Harold J. Haynes Endowed Chair in Geosciences, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1986. For the past 20 years, he has taken his message of climate change to groups ranging from garden clubs to physics teachers to petroleum engineers. Using satellite imagery and technologically advanced tools specific to atmospheric scientists, North has collected data and run climate models that show climate patterns with and without unnatural occurrences — models that he says illustrate a clear case for the existence of global warming. In 2006, he headed a committee of 12 scientists in a report that led to testimony before Congress regarding past climate changes related to a global warming theory. He also gave a deposition in a suit against allowing coal-fired power plants in Texas, stating that such plants would contribute to additional carbon dioxide’s flowing into the atmosphere.
For the latest details regarding Physics & Engineering Festival 2009, including event directions and parking information, please visit http://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or email@example.com
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