The Department of Physics and Astronomy and Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University invite audiences across Texas, the nation, and even the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology this spring at the 2016 Physics & Engineering Festival, an entertaining and informative weekend scientific extravaganza for all ages.
No fees or tickets are required for the free annual event for Saturday, April 9, from 10am to 5pm at the George P. Mitchell (’40) Physics Building on the Texas A&M campus.
Activities will begin at 10am with hands-on science exhibitions and engineering technology demonstrations and conclude with a 4pm public lecture by internationally recognized theoretical physicist Dr. Sean M. Carroll, research professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology, author of popular books and the “Preposterous Universe” blog, and a past TED speaker.
Throughout the day, festival participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists by riding a square-wheeled bicycle, running through a pool of cornstarch, shooting balloons with lasers, and trying their hands at generating electricity – four of the more than 150 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.
For the fourth consecutive year, the festival will showcase dozens of exciting new demonstrations built by student teams affiliated with the university-funded Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering Program. Many DEEP students, undergraduate and graduate, will be on hand to present their work this year, thereby joining the ranks of hundreds who have created new demos since the event’s inception.
In addition to exhibits, the daylong festival will feature three fantastic performances of the Science Circus at 11am, 1pm and 2:30pm by physics showman Rhys Thomas, who teaches Newtonian physics through a rare blend of science, comedy, and circus arts in a performance often compared to a Pixar movie. Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet Nobel Prize-winning Texas A&M physicists Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach and Dr. David M. Lee as well as NASA astronaut and professor Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, a veteran mission specialist and payload commander with the Space Shuttle Program who flew on five missions, in three successive lecture sessions scheduled for 11am, 1pm and 2pm, respectively, in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium.
Other special events on tap include Large Hadron Collider virtual tours at 12pm and 1:30pm as well as four performances of the Low-Temperature Physics Extravaganza at 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm and 3pm. Finally, a Texas-sized five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls will close out the exhibition portion of the show at 3:30pm outside the Mitchell Physics Building.
At 4pm, Carroll will deliver a keynote presentation, “The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time,” that will discuss the differences between the universe’s past and future, as well as the one constant throughout – time. Carroll will examine the nature of time, the origin of entropy and the events before the Big Bang that may be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today.
Prior to Saturday’s events, Texas A&M climate scientist Dr. Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences, will deliver a free public lecture, “The Historical Development of Climate Science and Why You Should Believe It,” on Friday, April 8, at 7pm in the Hawking Auditorium. Tickets are not required for the event, during which Dessler will review the history and science of climate change and explain why scientists remain convinced, despite the ongoing and often heated debate in the public sector. Dessler also will touch on aspects of his research on climate feedbacks – in particular, how water vapor and clouds act to amplify warming from the carbon dioxide that humans emit – and his experience, which includes a stint as a senior policy analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
For the latest details regarding the 2016 Physics & Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, visit http://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.