Shane Larson, BS 91, has won the Vth Fermilab Physics Slam – a public contest in which scientists are given 10 minutes on stage to explain what the heck they do to over 1000 people in a sold out auditorium.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/aurora-beacon-news/news/ct-abn-physics-slam-st-1202-20161201-story.html  has a Chicago Tribune article about the contest.

Shane works  at the Adler Planetarium and teaches at Northwestern University.  He gave a talk here in 2016 on the LIGO gravitational wave discovery.

 

At the most recent Astronomy Open House, on February 17th, many tried to reach for the… planets?

The newly formed OSU Astronomy Club and the Department of Physics hosted the most recent Open House with invited activities by the Corvallis Public Library and the Corvallis Arts Center. The event also featured Tom Carrico of the local amateur astronomer club: Heart of the Valley Astronomers who talked about how to view an eclipse safely.

At the event, parents, college students, and children alike, learned about how telescopes work, how astronomers identify what stars are made of, what causes the seasons, and the different types of shadows formed by an eclipse! Once each person completed their activity sheet, they were able to get a free commemorative eclipse poster about the upcoming Total Solar Eclipse in August.

Everyone seemed to love the event, and the OSU Astronomy Club is working to make the event even better than it already is, especially with anticipation growing for clear weather for the next Open House! So be sure to keep an eye on facebook.com/osuastronights to hear about the next exciting Astronomy open House! We hope to see you there!

 

 

Elementary school students at Franklin School, Corvallis, enjoyed the wonders of riding a frictionless craft across the school gym on Thursday night. They also learned how to make their own hovercraft using an old cd, and checked out other “wow” physics demos. Many thanks to the student volunteers from the Department of Physics who gave over 150 kids a super fun experience with physics. More school events are coming up soon.

Janet Tate setting up her superconducting demonstration.
Janet Tate setting up her superconducting demonstration.

The Spectrometer has been operating from the Oort cloud for the past few months, hence some delays in the signal reaching you.

A big event Spring quarter was Janet Tate’s masterful Gilfillan Lecture, “It’s a Materials World” on May 9th.

If you ever wanted to know what goes on in her lab, this is the lecture to watch.

You can find photos at:

Scenes from 2016 Gilfillan Memorial Lecture

and a video, featuring some great superconducting material at:

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Graduate student Atul Chhotray sets up telescopes for visitors on the roof of Weniger Hall.
On the moderately cold, crisp night of June 28th the Department of Physics hosted OSU’s First Astronomy Open House. The event, set up by graduate students Tyler Parsotan and Atul Chhotray, gave over a hundred children and adults alike an opportunity to experience physics and astronomy. 
 
Attendees were able to experience what happens to a star when it spins up, how astronomers identify what a star is made of, how telescopes work, and how the solar system is scaled. Additionally, people were able to see, through the Department’s telescopes, into the dark night sky, planets and their companions such as Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, and Mars. Tom Carrico, a renowned astrophotographer, showed attendees deep sky objects such as the great American Nebula using long exposures with his tracking telescope camera.  Along with the wonder and awe that one gets from seeing these beautiful celestial objects, attendees also got a free NASA Tourism Poster for them to remember the event.
 
There were beautiful 3D posters of the surface of Mars that encompassed a near real experience of being on the surface of mars, and the other “2D” posters decorated the walls of Weniger Hall in a mosaic of celestial beauty. 
 
With the success of this first event of its kind at OSU, harboring at least 120 attendees, Tyler and Atul will be having another event, so stay tuned to when the next Astronomy Open House is!
Check in
Check in with graduate student Kelby Petersen
Telescopes
Telescopes
A crown gathers on the roof.
Astrophotographer Tom Carrico creates a stacked image of the Milky Way in real time for an appreciative audience.
Dean Pantula came prepared for astronomy!
Dean Sastry Pantula came prepared for astronomy!

Scientists from the Physics Department visited the first grade classes (about 100 students) at Clover Ridge Elementary School. Atul Chhotray and Davide Lazzati used solar telescopes to give students an introduction to astronomy. Nicole Quist, Jacob Bigelow and Ethan Minot used an assortment of interactive demos to explain the amazing things we can do with air. From pushing a sail boat with giant air molecules, to floating on a hover craft. Nicole: “Raise your hands if you want to say something.” Student: “That was awesome!”

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On May 9th, Mercury transited the Sun and the crack physics solar telescope team (Randy Milstein and Jim Ketter) took a chance on a break in the clouds and set up 3 telescopes in the quad.  The sky cleared and over 40 people stopped by to see the transit before it ended right before lunch.  If anyone has a photo taken at this event, send it along and we will post it.

 

Randy Milstein helps visitors see Mercury transit the sun.
Randy Milstein helps visitors see Mercury transit the sun.

On April 12, Physics cohosted the Science Pub at the Old World Deli.

Crowd waiting for the talk to start.
Crowd waiting for the talk to start.

Shane Larson of Northwestern University/Adler planetarium ( BS Physics 1991)  presented the latest news on gravitational waves from the LIGO experiment to over 170 enthusiastic attendees after a pub quiz that no-one, including Shane and Physics Chair Heidi Schellman got 100%.  VP for Research Cindy Sagers won a prize for being one of 3 people to get 8/10!

 

 

Physics alum Shane Larson demonstrating gravitational interactions.
Physics alum Shane Larson demonstrating gravitational interactions.

Shane’s talk is posted at This location.

 

On March 5th, the Department hosted 22 girls from Oregon middle schools who were taking part in the “Discovering the Scientist Within” Workshop (http://oregonstate.edu/dept/cosey/dsw) .

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The students came to the free half-day workshop to learn about the wide range of career options for women in science, technology, engineering and math. 100 girls chose from a range of activities (physics was one option) hosted across campus. Through hands-on activities, they find out what it’s like to work in different careers. Participants have a chance to interact with professional women who work in a variety of fields. And they have a chance to meet other girls who share their interests.

Many thanks to the OSU students, staff and faculty (Liz Gire) who shared their time and enthusiasm with the girls.