The Lighter Side of Physics and Astronomy
Physics Songs (as featured in the APS News, maintained by Walter Smith)
Songs about physics can help students to remember critical concepts and formulas, but perhaps more importantly they communicate the lesson that physics can be fun. They certainly help to establish an informal classroom atmosphere, in which even shy students are willing to ask questions.
Haverford students get a chance to work collaboratively in an informal science setting through our public observing program. Attracting hundreds of visitors a year, this program includes activities for all ages along with telescope observing. Students take a variety of roles in this program, from leadership and curation of the events themselves, to giving presentations, to interacting with children over hands-on activities, to running the telescopes and teaching viewers about the universe. Its a fun time for faculty, students, and visitors alike!
Each spring, something odd happens throughout the Koshland Science Center. Faculty offices turn into jungles, or are filled with hidden eggs or particularly dynamical cups of fluids...lab equipment disappears and reappears in surprising locations...strange narratives unfold as you walk through the halls...it must be April 1st at Haverford Physics & Astronomy!
- 2010: The whole department goes retail, with intriguing shops in each faculty office: time-challenged Jerry's Tik-Tok Shoppe has clocks--lots and lots of clocks; check out Scott's Travel Agency--it can take you anywhere in the world you want to go (so long as it's in Canada); the savvy gentleman shopper knows Stephon's the place to go for stylin' fashions...
- 2009: Beth's office gets bubble-wrapped (every-single-thing); what's that weird sound from Peter's office? Oh--it's the six-foot whale sculpture...
- 2008: This year the physics and astronomy faculty faced off against each other and the administration in a game of Mortal Kombat, to answer the question: who will be left standing after the final contest with new Haverford president Steve Emerson?
- 2007: Physics, the Final Frontier..crew member Scotta insists on stopping off on every planet to have a photo taken with a phaser atop his head (you had to be there...).
- 2006: In the middle of our Physics Search, new faculty member Peter Love is surprised to discover that the Haverford physics and astronomy department stands accused of...murder! The body lies splayed before the main auditorium, and each faculty member is revealed to harbor a deep, dark secret (ever debonair Bruce Partridge is a James Bond-style spy, Jerry Gollub may have plagiarized his recent Nature article from Immanuel Kant, carelessly leaving it in the original German, etc.) .
- 2005: that famed band, HC/DC, is reunited briefly for a tour of the KINSC.
- 2004: Suzanne is accused of the murder...of Schrodinger's cat! Walter's office is invaded by tapping mode AFM heads and porphyrin nanorods come to life; Lyle gets a Colgate farewell (4 out of 5 dentists recommend...Haverford!); Bodies litter Froney's office and Scott has a groovy unpaired electron lounge in his.
- 2003: Froney gets kegged; The Lounge furniture mysteriously relocates into Suzanne's office; Walter's office gets alarming.
- 2002: The Department goes to Middle Earth...Fronefield Baggins and Jerry Gollum (author of "What has it got in its pockets?", submitted to PRL) try to return the Ring of Power with the help of wise wizard Roelof, while evil forces from the observatory await.
- 2001: The Departmental Empire strikes back...will Darth Goth (Scott Shelley) rule with the help of bounty hunter Boba Smith?
- 2000: Stokes Penitentiary: Oh, yeah, that's the one we don't talk about, when the chemists sternly told us to bring our majors back into line with good taste.
- The early history of April 1 (by Lynne Raschke).
Where in the world is Scott Shelley? Globe-trotting lab instructor Scott Shelley traveled to Buenos Ares, San Juan Puerto Rico (he recommends the bioluminescent plankton), Venezuela (completing his sweep of the world's greatest waterfalls), Fiji, Australia, and Vanuatu, including a memorable encounter with a way-too-close erupting volcano , not to mention the treehouse with monster spiders...
Demo Day 2010 This year's Computer Smashup featured Mike Pavlikowski (groundskeeper) fulfilling every senior's dream -- by destroying a PC, then a Mac, with a backhoe! Also, what happens when you take a plastic soda bottle of liquid nitrogen and put it in a watermelon? (Hint--goodbye watermelon, hello watermelon shrapnel!) Hmm, wonder what would happen if you took it and put it under a recycling bin?
Now with Video! - Click any image below to watch the science happen!
Where in the world is Scott Shelley? World traveler and lab instructor without parallel Scott Shelley went on even more adventures this year: swimming with manatees in Florida, the Galapagos Islands, a tour of Southeast Asia including Borneo, Vietnam, Thailand, ...
The Weekly Physics Summer Lunches featured areas of the world this time...
Demo Day 2009 Well, this year we demolished the computers (PC and Mac alike) using the thermite reaction. Best computer smash-up ever! The oobleck swimming pool was bigger and more satisfying than ever too, but that Towering Inferno Demo got a bit out of hand...
Astro & Physics Girls Night Out February 2009
Everyone had a great time going out to dinner, but we missed Beth--who had just given birth to Olive the night before!
Clockwise, bottom left to right: Lena Edelstein, Anna Sajina, Suzanne Amador Kane, Gail Gutowski, Jennifer Campbell, Ella Willard-Schmoe, Anna Pancoast, Anna Klales, Monica Kishore (missing: Daphne Paparis, Adi Zolotov and Beth Willman)
Mascot Wars 2008-2009
Q-bit, the Physics departmental wombat appears to be hiding out in a wormhole (to avoid being swiped by other departments?), while Riemann the Math platypus, appears to be going experimentalist.
Summer 2008 Rafting Trip
The summer 2008 rafting trip had a contingent of hardy, yet piratical, physics participants fielding three rafts on the Lehigh River. Highlights included constant assaults by water buckets on other boats and the Kraken-like propensity of Peter Love to drag unwary students from their rafts into the briny deep.
Computer Smash-up 2008
Computer Smash-up 2008 featured celebrity guests Mac and PC tossing each other's computers to oblivion from the top of the Koshland Science Center, after which waiting accomplices demolished them further on the ground: "Does this void the warranty? Cntrl-C! Cntrl-C!"
The Weekly Summer Physics Lunch.
The summer physics/astro lunch took place again, accompanying our usual summer student research program, with weekly entrees structured around states of the union. A special highlight was the lunch celebrating Scott Shelley's surprise (to us!) wedding in South Africa this June!
The Weekly Summer Physics Lunch.
This year's theme (see below) is a famous physicist each week. Our research students and faculty honor (via conversation and food) Enrico Fermi the first week (check out that Fermi-Dirac distribution at three temperatures on the brownies!)
Sure we all know how to build a computer from scratch from Physics 316: Advanced Electronics and Computers, or Dave's Computer Science courses on computer architecture. But...how does one best destroy a computer? By dropping it off a tall building? Or, by pinata-like assault with a sledgehammer? (Below) See the video for the satisfying resolution.
Well, it's flattering that our seniors want to be like us faculty...but dressing exactly like us is a little weird.
See slideshow photos from our stupendous series of explosions (thermite reactions, contact explosives, ignited balloons of flammable gases, an absolute mushroom cloud of water exploding from a steel drum when liquid nitrogen expands in a bottom at the bottom, etc.) levitating huge objects and other odd goings-on, including the oobleck (cornstarch and water) swimming pool--it's a liquid when you pour it but solid when you run (or handspring) across it!