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Juniata Students Find Inner Entertainer at Physics Phun Night

(Posted April 15, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata science students will discover their inner entertainer as they winningly demonstrate astounding pheats of physical science during Physics Phun Night at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 17, in Alumni Hall in the Brumbaugh Academic Center on the Juniata campus.

Physics Phun Night, sponsored by the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and the physics department, is free and open to the public.

"Once you see how physics applies to someone lying on nails, it helps us understand science much more clearly."
Jim Borgardt, associate professor of physics

One of the principles demonstrated during Physics Phun Night is the distribution of force over a wide area. Two Juniata facuty members will memorably exhibit this phenomenon by shattering a cement block with a sledgehammer. The cement block in question is balanced on the chest of Hidecki Takei, assistant professor of business, who will be lying on a bed of nails. James Borgardt, associate professor of physics and sponsor of the SPS club, will deliver the sledgehammer blow.

Other demonstrations will include:

Sonic Boom in a Bottle: A student will force gas through a tube at a speed that breaks the sound barrier, producing a small, but loud, sonic boom.

Giant Vat of Ooblek: Ooblek is a liquid comprised of cornstarch and water that stiffens into a solid when force is applied to it, allowing people to walk on it.

The Theremin: A theremin is an electronic musical instrument that is "played" by using the hands to manipulate the air above two antennas. Music fans will recognize the instrument from the eerie introductory notes of the Beach Boys hit "Good Vibrations."

Floating on Air: An aluminum foil boat will mysteriously float in a tank filled with air.

The students also will illustrate freezing principles by using liquid nitrogen in a series of crowd-pleasing demonstrations, and also fill bubbles with methane gas.

"Using props like the bed of nails makes teaching the principles of a fairly complex science both memorable and fun," Borgardt says. "Once you see how physics applies to someone lying on nails, it helps us understand science much more clearly."



Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.