Sunday, November 29, 2015

That physics show off Broadway

When I was at Rutgers, I could see the physics show of David Maiullo, the local physics demonstrator, a few times. The experiments took place at the round Physics Lecture Hall (next to the physics department, the "Serin Hall") where the colloquia take place, too. Strangely enough, the photograph linked to in this paragraph was taken even before I came to Rutgers – in the year (1996) in which Rutgers was arguably among the world's top 3 universities doing string theory.

As this trailer above makes clear, his experiments have been reshaped to something like arts and they got to Broadway. Well, almost. The show may be seen on 151 West 46th Street (The Playroom Theater) which is pretty close to Broadway.

Such physics experiments are fun – and not only for children. I think that even many adults tend to be "wowed" by some of these things, especially if they have never seen them. But sometimes the adults are ashamed of their child-like excitement. We know similar things from many places – the regional science center Techmania is doing similar things in Pilsen – but Maiullo really acts like a kind of a fakir, too. Sometimes you feel that not everyone could volunteer to do this job.

Some experimenters were organizing comparable shows back in Prague (at MFF Karlov) when I was an undergraduate.

There is a certain subset of physics insights that may be "pumped" into every viewer because these insights may be presented in this eye-catching way. When one tries to push this teaching method too far, he probably unavoidably sees that there is a difference between "physics" and "entertainment", after all. And lots of people may end up knowing about the particular "tricks" but they don't really ask (and learn) why they work the way they do. But I do think that the number of similar experiments at schools etc. (during experimentally oriented physics classes etc.) should increase.

You may buy the tickets here, at the URL available from, the domain of that physics show. The performances began on November 4th and will continue to 2016. Today, on Sunday, the tickets are sold out. But you may buy tickets for every future Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3:00 pm.

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