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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Physics fest expects crowd

Cancel your weekend plans physics is calling.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M will host its 10th annual Physics and Engineering Festival on Saturday. Open to people of all ages and backgrounds, the festival aims to bring physics into the public spotlight.
The festival is a free event and everyone is invited, said Tatiana Erukhimova, physics professor and festival coordinator. All you need to bring is your curiosity.
If curiosity is the entrance fee, many are eager to pay it. More than 4,000 people are expected to attend this years festival, and the demonstrations and atmosphere continue to make A&Ms yearly tribute to science and engineering a unique local event.
If you wanted to participate in something similar, you would need to go to San Franciscos Exploratorium, Erukhimova said, referring to the famous museum of science and art that aims to expand science education.
Erukhimova said the features that make A&Ms Festival so distinct are the way in which fundamental, and often complex, physical ideas are presented. There are more than 200 demonstrations prepared for public viewing and participation Saturday, and while the science behind them is solid, their reality is often surprising.
One of the demonstrations we have is a cornstarch pool where participants can run across [the pool] without sinking, said Jacob Gayles, physics graduate student and festival volunteer.
Gayles said the pool, two-feet deep and eight-feet long, demonstrates a property of cornstarch where it can act as both a liquid and a solid. Step into it and a person will sink, but apply a force to the surface by running on it and it will act as a solid, allowing anyone fast enough to essentially walk on water.
Other topics such as optics and electricity will be explored and presented in novel ways. A Tesla Coil, an invention made famous by Nikola Teslas experiments with powerful electrical fields, will harness more than 100,000 volts of electricity to produce six-foot electrical arcs through the air. Balloons will be present in one demonstration not as party features, but as targets to shoot and pop with lasers.
Jaime Cardona, sophomore physics major and festival volunteer, is one of the students who has worked since the fall semester to design and build the demonstrations. He said the festival shows how science isnt just boring lectures, but can be rewarding.
[The festival] will be lots of fun, Cardona said. Physics is usually associated with boring things, but in reality it is not.
While demonstrations are a big contributor to the festivals goal of spreading scientific appreciation, the way in which it brings A&M and the community together is equally important.
More than 50 percent of the Universitys physics faculty will participate in the events, and 200 student volunteers have worked since September to prepare the demonstrations they will present to the public.
Its important to be able to interact with internationally recognized faculty who are conducting cutting-edge research, Erukhimova said. Physics professors and faculty will participate in the demonstrations, speak, and interact with the public. Its amazing, and makes the festival unique.

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