Monday, November 02, 2009

How To Make A Comet

This is sort of a "trip report" of the 2009 Open House at Indiana University's Physics and Astronomy Dept. It sounds like a fun event, including an instruction on how to make a comet!

In the hands-on astronomy exhibit, my oldest son devoted about ten minutes to making a comet. Ingredients include: water, ammonia, dirt, corn syrup, and dry ice … plus some sarcasm and melodrama. A couple hours later, the comet didn’t look as pretty, but it retained enough mass to make it to our freezer. I fear this may be a summer snow ball accident waiting to happen.

Definitely a fun Fall event for those who can make it next year.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at the Open House on Saturday. I live in Indianapolis and it was only about an hour drive. While there I took the tour of the cyclotron lab. I'd been to the lab before, about fifteen years or so ago. At the time they were putting in a synchrotron, but it's no longer there. In its place is the neutron source for materials studies, and the proton therapy for cancer patients.

I always like the physics demo show, which they always do in the form of a play, though I don't think they pulled off this year's so well. Since it fell on Halloween, the theme for the skit was the Ghostbusters at Hogwarts. It was a good idea, but the students this time weren't very good actors, so several of the demos fell kind of flat for lack of delivery. The littlest kids still loved the smoke ring cannon, the bowling ball pendulum, and especially the non-Newtonian fluid.

In my estimation the best docents were the students from foreign countries. They seemed to have the most enthusiasm for their displays, and were the most at-ease in their articulations. One young Chinese lady was positively beaming to be able to explain homopolar motors!