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Last modified: Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy departments plan open houses for Nov. 5

Oct. 25, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy departments at Indiana University Bloomington are inviting everyone, young and old, to their annual open houses on Saturday, Nov. 5.

The Chemistry Open House runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chemistry Building, 800 E. Kirkwood Ave. The Physics and Astronomy Open House is from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Swain Hall West, 727 E. Third St. Both open houses are free and feature a wide range of activities.

Chemistry Department events include exploration of hands-on chemistry and science activities, two chemistry "Magic" shows, displays of new and exciting research and tours of facilities.

Chemistry Open House

IU scientists will supervise hands-on activities at upcoming open houses for the Department of Chemistry and the Departments of Physics and Astronomy.

The open house celebrates National Chemistry Week, a community-based annual event that unites American Chemical Society local sections, businesses, schools and individuals in communicating the importance of chemistry to quality of life. This year's theme is "Chemistry -- Our Health, Our Future," highlighting the importance of chemistry to health and health care through medicines that make people well, hygiene products for cleanliness and vitamins and minerals to supplement diets.

This year's Physics and Astronomy Open House will include two events that are specifically designed for audiences of high school age and above: An Energy Forum 10-11 a.m. in Swain Hall West 007, featuring presentations by IU experts on topics that could have a direct impact on Hoosiers' lives; and a showing of the documentary film Cosmic Voyage from 11:15 a.m.-noon, also in Swain West 007.

The Energy Forum will include:

  • "The Fukushima Accident and Nuclear Power in the U.S." Physics Professor Chuck Horowitz will discuss the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused a serious accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The forum will address what happened in Japan, what the accident may mean for nuclear power in the U.S., and what it means for the energy and environmental choices that we now face.
  • "Reactivating a 100-Year-Old Indiana Hydropower Plant with Modern Technology." Physics Professor Emeritus Alex Dzierba will talk about Williams Dam and its associated powerhouse, which were constructed on the White River near Bedford, Ind., in 1910-1912. The powerhouse was shut down in the late 1950s. A due diligence study recently was completed showing that the hydropower plant could be reactivated, using high-temperature superconducting generators, to provide about 2.5 megawatts of power with a payback time of 15 years or less.

Cosmic Voyage, made in 1996 and narrated by Morgan Freeman, was nominated for an Academy Award. The film combines live action with state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery to pinpoint where humans fit in the ever-expanding universe. Highlighting this journey is a 'cosmic zoom' based on the powers of 10, extending from the surface of the Earth to the largest observable structures of the universe, and then back to the sub-nuclear realm -- a guided tour across 42 orders of magnitude. IU Astronomy Professor Constantine Deliyannis will lead a question-and-answer session after the screening.

The Physics and Astronomy Open House also will feature ever-popular hands-on experimentation and science theory. Participants will make waves and analyze sounds in the Acoustics Room, spin dizzily in the Mechanics Room, create crackling sparks in the Electromagnetism Room, experience strange optical effects in the Light & Color Room, explore quantum effects and current particle physics experiments being done at Fermilab and the Large Hadron Collider in the Modern Physics Room, play with optical illusions in the Biophysics Room and see objects shattered after being plunged in liquid nitrogen in low-temperature demonstrations.

The always popular Contest Room will challenge science knowledge and reward brainpower with prizes. The Outdoor Exploratorium features the perplexing Coriolis Force Merry-go-Round, dry ice bowling, and a seismometer and ground-penetrating radar from the Department of Geological Sciences.

"Billi and Ted's Spacetime Adventure," a popular demonstration lecture by the IU Physics and Astronomy Club, will include the perilous bed of nails, the Physics Department Rocket Car streaking across the auditorium, soda cans ripped asunder by magnetic fields and catastrophically imploding oil drums. The shows (at 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. in Swain West 119) are suitable for children in grades 1-12 as well as college students and adults.

The Physics and Astronomy Open House also will include a guided tour of the IU Integrated Science and Accelerator Technology Hall (for ages 13 and older), as well as tours of nearby Kirkwood Observatory and the solar observatory given by IU astronomers.

Faculty and students will be on hand to assist, explain activities, discuss results and chat with those interested in careers or education in chemistry, physics, applied physics, and astronomy at Indiana University.

For more information on the Chemistry Open House, see or contact James Clark at 812-855-1192. For more on the Physics and Astronomy Open House, see https:// or contact Susan Brown at 812-855-1246.