UT Department of Physics

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 

A recent article in The Daily Texan discussed the concern of the fairness of the proceedings in the trial of Omid Kokabee who, when he was a graduate student in the UT Department of Physics, was detained by the Iranian government in Jan., 2011, as he was attempting to return back to UT after a winter break visit to his family in Iran. In May 2012 he was convicted and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for collaboration with enemies of Iran. His trial, which took place simultaneously with more than 10 other defendants, was extremely rapid. Kokabee was the only defendant to not admit guilt and Kokabee did not have access to legal help. As an attempt to obtain a fair trial for Kokabee, a petition directed to the authorities in Iran has been placed online here. I urge Daily Texan readers to support this call for a fair re-trial of Omid Kokabee.

— Herbert L. Berk, Professor, Department of Physics