UT Department of Physics and Society of Physics Students host open house for students to explore labs and department

Bobby Blanchard

The UT Department of Physics’ open house ended with a splat Tuesday afternoon as watermelons fell 224 feet at 55 miles per hour in about 2-and-half seconds.

The event opened 21 labs in Robert Lee Moore Hall for college and high school students to tour in hopes of introducing them to the physics community and department at UT. After the tours ended, officers in the Society of Physics Students dropped watermelons off of the top of the 224-foot-tall RLM to ensure they fell at the same rate.

“It’s nice to make sure gravity still works sometimes,” Joseph Crowley, Society of Physics Students outreach coordinator, said. “And it’s nice to just throw some fruit.”

Crowley said one of the reasons for hosting the event was to introduce freshmen and sophomores to the life of a physicist.

“We want the rest of the UT community to know what we do,” Crowley said. “We sound like big, scary scientists hiding in our caves, but we want people to see what it is actually like.”

Jonathan Blair, Society of Physics Students secretary, said another reason for the event was to introduce high school students to the UT campus.

“We wanted to invite high school students over so we can give them an introduction to college and show them why UT is really awesome,” Blair said.

One of the 21 labs hosts the world’s most powerful laser, the Petawatt Laser. Students were able to observe the laser behind a glass window.

“We wanted to make sure everyone could get something out of this and have a good time,” Blair said.

He said the event was a success. Blair said the organization estimated 300 people would attend the event, but more than 500 showed up.

The Society of Physics Students helped UT’s physics department plan and host the event. Evan Ott, Society of Physics Students president, said he hoped the Department of Physics can put on the event again in the future.

“One of the things we wanted to do was prove the Society of Physics Students could provide assistance in setting this up,” Blair said.

Printed on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 as: Department of Physics hosts students at smashingly sucessful open house