‘Spooky Physics Night’ Set for Friday

Department of Physics and Astronomy offers fun, frights and food for all

UM physicist David Sanders (center) and a couple of Ole Miss physics graduate students hand out cups of ice cream made using liquid nitrogen to eager visitors waiting to taste it as part of a ‘Spooky Physics’ night. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – New frights and fresh takes on old delights are the order of the evening when the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy presents “Spooky Physics Demonstrations” from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday (Nov. 1) in Lewis Hall.

The program will include stage shows starting at 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. New demonstrations include a virtual reality simulation that allows people to explore a particle detector in 3D, as well as presentations on electricity, magnetism, lasers and optics.

“For the Spooky Physics Night this year, we will open additional rooms in the department to host new demonstrations, including electricity and magnetism, acoustics, virtual reality simulations and more,” said Jake Bennett, assistant professor of physics and co-coordinator of the evening’s activities. “We will also be holding a low-temperature physics show that will display some of the amazing things that can happen when things get very cold.”

Hands-on activities for the public held throughout the evening include freezing objects in liquid nitrogen, generating sound waves with Bunsen burners and tubes, and levitating magnets with superconductors. Other fun presentations include optical illusions with mirrors, a Van de Graaff generator – for “hair-raising” fun – a bed of nails and other contraptions.

UM physics graduate students Keegan Kurpakus (center) and Ray Siedlecki (right) help a participant at last year’s ‘Spooky Physics Demonstrations’ try out a leaf blower-powered ‘hovercraft.’ Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Physics department personnel also will prepare ice cream with liquid nitrogen and award prizes for the most original, scariest and cutest costumes to kids 10 and under.

“Prizes will be cool physics demonstration toys,” said Raymond Siedlecki, a graduate physics student. “Winners will be able to impress their friends by repeating some of the cool demonstrations they will see at the show.”

Bennett said the annual event is the department’s way to give something back to the community.

“The Spooky Physics Night is a great opportunity to see physics in action,” he said. “Faculty and students will host some interesting demonstrations and explain some of the science behind fascinating phenomena.”

After 6 p.m., visitors can park along All American Drive and in the University Circle; surrounding areas alongside or behind the Turner Center and the Intensive English building, just west of the Turner Center; in the Pavilion garage; or in Tad Smith Coliseum parking lot.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, call the Department of Physics and Astronomy at 662-915-5325.