Five physicists will enter, only one will leave … with a prize, that is.
On Nov. 16, five of Fermilab’s best and brightest will duke it out in the Fermilab Arts & Lecture Series’ first ever Physics Slam. It’s similar to a poetry slam – each of the five physicists will get 12 minutes to explain a complex scientific concept to the audience in the most clear and entertaining way possible.
And just as in a poetry slam, the audience will decide the winner. The physicist who receives the loudest applause will walk away a champion.
This won’t be your average physics lecture, however. The five slammers will be allowed to use any props they want and illuminate their chosen concept with humor, songs or audience participation. Don’t expect to see a lot of complex equations or diagrams. Do expect to have fun while learning about the science conducted at the Department of Energy’s premier laboratory for particle physics.
“They can do music, they can do jokes,” said Dave Dykstra, a member of the Auditorium Committee that organized the Physics Slam. “It should be anything but dry.”
Participating in the first Physics Slam will be:
- Doug Glenzinski, deputy project manager with the Mu2e muon experiment and a Fermilab physicist since 1999. Glenzinski will discuss how muons – heavy cousins of the electron – may hold the key to the next revolutionary particle physics discovery.
- Deborah Harris, spokesperson for the MINERvA neutrino experiment and a longtime Fermilab physicist. Her presentation is called “The Neutrino Monologues” and will delve into the mysterious properties of these tiny particles.
- Stuart Henderson, associate laboratory director for accelerators. He will talk about the potential that particle accelerators bring to nuclear power, specifically, that they provide an alternative to storing nuclear waste underground.
- Chris Stoughton, a Fermilab scientist working on the development of the Holometer, an experiment bringing together quantum mechanics with general relativity. Stoughton will explain the “Holography of the Universe,” and he promises to discuss just what it is scientists do all day.
- Bob Tschirhart, research program scientist for the proposed Project X and a Fermilab physicist since 1992. Tschirhart will talk about Project X, one of the lab’s lynchpin long-term projects, and the impact it may have on physics worldwide.
Fermilab’s first Physics Slam will be hosted by the College of DuPage’s Chris Miller, associate speech professor and creator of That Beepin’ Show, a regular lighthearted look at activities happening on campus. Miller promises to inject his trademark humor into the event.
“What I admire about physicists is that they are not just doing equations, they are trying to save the world,” Miller said. “It's easy to dismiss them as Clark Kent, but really they are superheroes. At the Physics Slam, we get to see their superpowers.”
The Physics Slam is part of Fermilab’s Arts and Lecture Series. Upcoming events include the Good Lovelies Holiday Show on Dec. 8, a lecture on “Building Bionics” by Dr. Todd Kuiken of Northwestern University on Jan. 18, a recital by the Metropolis Quartet on Jan. 20 and a one-man performance by Tomas Kubinek titled “Certified Lunatic and Master of the Impossible” on Jan. 26.
Admission to this event is $7. Reserve tickets by phoning 630/840.ARTS (2787). On the evening of the lecture, the box office opens at 7 p.m. and will-call tickets can be picked up, or available tickets purchased, at that time.
The Fermilab Lecture Series takes place in Ramsey Auditorium, located in Wilson Hall, the high-rise building on the campus of Fermilab. Entrance is via Pine Street at Kirk Road in Batavia, Ill. or via Batavia Road, west of Rte. 59 in Warrenville. For more information on this and all Fermilab Arts & Lecture Series offerings, go to www.fnal.gov/culture.