By Robert Elmouchi, Saturday Morning Physics Patron
What’s hiding beneath the soles of the Saturday Morning Physics attendees; some deep dark secret or buried treasure? The answer is yes to both. It’s the University of Michigan Department of Physics Demonstration Lab run by Warren Smith.
Just feet below the feet of more than 450 Saturday Morning Physics attendees’ lies a treasure trove of physics demonstration equipment that would put any science fiction movie prop department to shame. These aren’t just props… they’re the real thing! With his unique blend of expertise and innovation, Warren Smith manages a demonstration lab that looks something like Dr. Frankenstein’s warehouse on steroids. In this warehouse, sequestered away in the bowels of Dennison Hall, lay aisle after aisle of custom fabricated experiments and demonstrations that have a proud history of being used to educate the future movers and shakers of the physical sciences.
One Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of receiving a private tour from Warren Smith, who manages the U of M Physics Demonstration Lab, and was thoroughly impressed by his Santa’s workshop of science. Warren, a graduate of the U of M Physics Department himself, was offered his current position two decades ago after building a reputation through his work during previous summers as an assistant. For twenty-two years he’s directed the fabrication of custom ordered displays designed to demonstrate the cutting edge knowledge of our universe as taught by the superstars of science. With the help of a highly educated staff, Warren Smith has served up thousands of demonstrations like some high pressure haute reality restaurant but without the profanity associated with Chef Ramsay.
Each day Warren orchestrates a symphony of physics demonstrations that add relevance and substance to the cosmic, microscopic, subatomic and invisible worlds around us. As a regular attendee of the Saturday Morning Physics public lecture series, I’ve had the personal pleasure of being educated and entertained through the displays created by Warren and his staff; some of which, without exaggeration, were shocking and explosive. If you haven’t attended Saturday Morning Physics, then I invite you to join me and hundreds of the other denizens of Dennison Hall for free coffee, tea, hot chocolate, donuts, bagels and a most entertaining and educational experience at one of the top-ten centers of physics research in the United States.
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