Physics Festival to Feature Bubble Magic, Displays, Universal Fun
COLLEGE STATION —
The Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University are teaming up to showcase science and technology later this month as part of Physics & Engineering Festival 2010, 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 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the new George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Buildings on the Texas A&M campus. All events are sponsored by the Departments of Physics and Astronomy 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 a public lecture by internationally recognized cosmologist Dr. Chris Impey, a university distinguished professor in the Steward Observatory and deputy head of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. In between, attendees will have the opportunity to take in the amazing talents of internationally acclaimed physics showman Tom Noddy, also known as the “Bubble Guy,” whose exquisite bubbles, lively humor and engaging sense of fun leave his audiences both delighted and intrigued.
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 their hands at generating electricity or testing gravity’s limits in other fun experiments and displays illustrating basic scientific and engineering technology-related concepts and principles. Two additional feature attractions located within the Mitchell Institute are the 83-foot Foucault pendulum, a silent yet stunning demonstration of Earth’s rotation, and the intricate Penrose tile that graces the first-floor atrium area which cannot be shifted and still match the original pattern. All exhibits are manned by Texas A&M faculty, staff and students, including representatives from the Departments of Chemistry and Mathematics.
At 4 p.m., Impey will present How Strange Might Life Be? in the primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. The lecture will describe some of the most surprising and extreme places life is found on Earth, from high and arid deserts and on the sea floor to deep within rocks, and how that correlates to similar possibilities on moons and planets around many of the few billion Sun-like stars in our own Milky Way Galaxy.
Impey, whose research interests include observational cosmology, quasars and distant galaxies, has written 160 research papers and two astronomy textbooks. The recipient of 11 teaching awards, he has served as a National Science Foundation Distinguished Teaching Scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, and the Carnegie Council’s Arizona Professor of the Year. In addition, he is a former vice president of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). His first popular book, The Living Cosmos, was published in 2007, and his second, How It Ends, will appear in 2010.
Before first bringing his performance to television in the early 1980s, Noddy spent more than a decade developing a new kind of performance piece armed only with dime-store bubble solution, a childlike sense of wonder and an adult sense of humor. In his 30-plus-year career as “America’s Bubble Guy,” Noddy has appeared numerous times on prime-time, daytime and late-night television shows, including “The Tonight Show,” as well as at nightclubs and universities. He has presented at the International Congress of Mathematics and been the featured performer for science centers’ Bubble Festivals attracting up to 17,000 people in a single weekend. Regardless of venue, Noddy has taken his uniquely warm charm and intellectual interest in soap bubbles to audiences around the world, performing in more than 50 countries to date.
Prior to Saturday’s events, Dr. George W. Kattawar, professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M and an expert in optics, will deliver a free public lecture, Polarized Light in Nature, on Friday (Mar. 26) at 7 p.m. in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the event, in which Kattawar will discuss examples of exciting ways both terrestrial and marine animals — from humans and honeybees to shrimp and octopus — use polarized light for such purposes as navigation, foraging, mating, identification and survival.
A member of the Texas A&M faculty since 1968, Kattawar received a bachelor’s of science degree from Lamar University with highest honors and both his master’s of science and Ph.D. degrees from Texas A&M University on a National Defense and Education Act Fellowship. Before coming to Texas A&M, he was at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Esso Production Research and the University of North Texas. His research interests include atmosphere and ocean optics, quantum optics and applied physics. Kattawar is a fellow of the Optical Society of America, formerly associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans and the Journal of Transport Theory and Statistical Physics. In 1981, he received the Amoco Foundation Award for distinguished teaching and in 1990 won a Teacher/Scholar Award.
For the latest details regarding Physics & Engineering Festival 2010, including event directions and parking information, please visit the event website.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or email@example.com
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