Physics is Phun did it again! The Department’s Lecture Demonstration Facility hosted another great show with over 550 guests from around the Washington, DC metro area, filling the University of Maryland Physics Lecture Hall during the two evening performances of Out of the Dark. The first of the 2014-2015 Physics is Phun series, this show brought to life the scientists, discoveries, and inventions of electricity and magnetism from the past several centuries through the present.
An undergraduate physics student kicked off the program by sharing his current research on superconductors and then posed the question of how we got to the point where he could do his research on electrical properties of materials. The audience then embarked on a journey through time, making its way literally out of the dark, into the technologies of the present and future.
The experiments and discoveries of over a dozen scientists were portrayed, such as Benjamin Franklin and James Maxwell. Rivals Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla hotly debated AC vs DC electricity. William Shockley shared the discovery of the transistor and Karl Mueller brought the audience back to present day with his work on superconductors.
Everyone enjoyed static electricity from the ever popular Van de Graaff Generator, causing audience volunteers’ hair to stand on end, and thunderous applause was given to an audience member who furiously pedaled on the bicycle generator to brightly illuminate four 60-watt light bulbs. (Followed by a more relaxing ride with 15-watt compact fluorescent bulbs!)
The audience was wowed several times by the sheer power of electricity and magnetism, including when two volunteers were unable to separate an electromagnet powered by a flashlight battery, and then again when the can crusher split an aluminum can and sent each half hurtling across the stage!
Each evening ended with the highly anticipated Physics is Phun raffle and Name the Scientists contest. We hope everyone is eagerly looking forward to our next show in February!
For questions, contact us at: