*** FESTIVAL CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19! See you at the next event, set for April 10, 2021! ***
Texas A&M University invites audiences across Texas, the nation and even the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology this spring at the 2020 Physics & Engineering Festival, an entertaining and informative weekend scientific extravaganza for all ages.
No fees or tickets are required for the free annual event (view promotional poster online), scheduled for Saturday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell ’40 Physics Building on the Texas A&M campus.
Activities will begin at 10 a.m. with hands-on science exhibitions and engineering technology demonstrations and conclude with a 4 p.m. public lecture by UCLA Physics and Astronomy Chair Dr. David Saltzberg, who served as science consultant on the television situation comedy The Big Bang Theory as well as the spin-off series Young Sheldon.
All events are hosted by the Texas A&M Department Physics and Astronomy in partnership with several other campus units, including the Departments of Aerospace Engineering, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology and Atmospheric Sciences as well as the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History.
Throughout the day, festival participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists aboard a square-wheeled bicycle, run through a pool of cornstarch, and try their hands at generating electricity or shooting balloons with lasers — four of the more than 200 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 eighth consecutive year, the festival will showcase dozens of exciting new demonstrations built by student teams affiliated with the DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering) Program. Hundreds of DEEP students, undergraduate and graduate, have been involved in creating the new demos during the years, and many will be on hand to present their work.
Adding to the traditional hands-on fun, NASA’s Driven to Explore Mobile Exhibit featuring one of 10 touchable moon rocks in the world and other immersive multimedia experiences will be docked in Parking Lot 5 adjacent to the Mitchell Physics Building.
In addition to exhibits, the daylong festival will feature three fantastic Bubble Show performances (11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.) by internationally acclaimed bubble artist and physics showman Tom Noddy, also known as the “Bubble Guy,” whose exquisite bubbles, lively humor and engaging sense of fun leave his audiences both delighted and intrigued.
Attendees also will have the opportunity to meet NASA astronauts and Texas A&M professors Col. Michael Fossum ’80 and Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg. Fossum, a veteran of three space flights with more than than 194 days in space and more than 48 hours in seven spacewalks to his credit during his 19 years as an astronaut officer aboard the International Space Station who now serves as a vice president of Texas A&M and as chief operating officer of the Texas A&M-Galveston campus, will present Living & Working in Space: Dream of a Lifetime, at 11 a.m. in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium. Currie-Gregg, a professor of engineering practice at Texas A&M since 2017 who accrued 1,000 hours in space as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions and logged more than 4,000 flying hours in a variety of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, will present Biomedical Challenges for Human Spaceflight, at 2 p.m. in Hawking Auditorium.
Other special events on tap include pictures with Reveille from 11 a.m. to noon, Cyclotron Institute tours, Large Hadron Collider virtual tours at 12:15 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. in Hawking Auditorium, tours of 1996 Nobel Prize-winning Texas A&M physicist Dr. David M. Lee’s laboratory, and four performances of the Low-Temperature Physics Extravaganza at 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Finally, a Texas-sixed five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls and the Texas A&M Yell Leaders will close out the exhibition portion of the show at 3:30 p.m. on the south side the Mitchell Physics Building.
At 4 p.m., Saltzberg will deliver a keynote presentation, How Did Amy and Sheldon Win Their Nobel Prize?, in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. He will discuss his experiences putting his University of Chicago physics Ph.D. to work in an industry seemingly far from his own as a science consultant helping the writers and other crew tell the story of The Big Bang Theory.
Prior to Saturday’s events, Guggenheim Fellow and author Richard Panek will deliver a free public lecture, My Trouble with Gravity, on Friday (April 3) at 7 p.m., also in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building. Tickets are not required for the kickoff event, in which Panek will discuss his latest book, The Trouble with Gravity: Solving the Mystery Beneath Our Feet, and what he learned about the role gravity plays in how we think about our place in the universe during his writing process.
All events are sponsored by the Texas A&M University System, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Charles R. ’62 and Judith G. Munnerlyn, ExxonMobil, the Willard and Anne Levin Foundation, Col. Hal Schade ’67, Ahmed Mahmoud ’87, Michele Mobley ’87, Susan Sheskey, Purna C. Murthy ’88, CC Creations, Schlotzsky’s College Station and Pepsi. The event is a member of the Science Festival Alliance.
For the latest details regarding the 2020 Physics & Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, please visit http://physicsfestival.tamu.edu.