What does the surface of a desk and the surface of a beach ball or bagel have in common? The answer is, if you zoom in close enough on each item, they all look flat. Of course, we all know…
How physics makes things work is focus of free public event
Louis A. Bloomfield, professor of physics at the University of Virginia, will present “How Things Work: Physics in Everyday Life” at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, in Syracuse University’s Physics Building Stolkin Auditorium. The lecture is the opening event for the Fall 2009 meeting of the New York State Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers (NYSS-AAPT), hosted by the Department of Physics in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Bloomfield’s lecture will be preceded at 7 p.m. by “Crushing Physics Demos,” presented by Sam Sampere, physics department laboratory manager. The demonstration will feature the physics of a crushed steel barrel, holes blown through soda cans, shattered wine glasses and more. Both events are free and open to the public.
The Fall 2009 meeting of the NYSS-AAPT will continue on Saturday, Oct. 17, with presentations by Alan Van Heuvelen, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy education research at Rutgers University; Martin Forstner, assistant professor of physics in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Joseph Zawicki, associate professor of earth sciences and science education at Buffalo State College, State University of New York. Registration information is available at http://nyss-aapt.org/.
Bloomfield is widely recognized for his teaching of physics and science to thousands of non-science students and is renowned for using everyday objects to help non-scientists discover and understand the physical concepts that make things work. He also works extensively with professional societies and the media to explain physics to the general public. He frequently serves as a physics consultant and as an expert witness on legal matters that require a broad understanding of physics and scientific issues.
“The world around us is rich with physics if only we take the time to look,” Bloomfield says. “On my agenda for this lecture are roller coasters, bicycles, clocks and microwave ovens. We’ll use these objects and more to address such important questions as why you feel pressed into the seat as you go over the top of a loop, and why you don’t put metal in a microwave.”
Bloomfield is the author of more than 100 publications in the fields of atomic clusters, auto-ionizing states, high-resolution laser spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, computer science and general science literacy. He wrote “How Things Work: The Physics of Everyday Life,” 4th Edition (Wiley, New York, 2010) and “How Everything Works: Making Physics Out of the Ordinary” (Wiley, New York, 2008).
A fellow of the American Physical Society, Bloomfield is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Apker Award of the American Physical Society, a Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation, a Young Investigator Award of the Office of Naval Research, and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. He received a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1983 and was a postdoctoral fellow at AT&T Bell Laboratories before arriving at the University of Virginia in 1985.