The Cleveland Stater is published online and in print by students enrolled in the School of Communication at Cleveland State University.
Student organization brings out the fun in physics
BY ROBERT REEBEL
On a bright fall afternoon, the lights dim inside a classroom in CSU’s Science Research Building where a crowd of people have gathered for pizza. Suddenly, the air is filled with the odor of natural gas, a shower of sparks flashes and dozens of flames jump upward from a long metal tube on display at the front of the classroom.
A student flips a switch on a mysterious black box next to the tube and a steady, high-pitched tone pierces the quiet that had settled over the crowd. The flames begin to dance. As the student twists a knob on the black box, the tone shifts its pitch and the flames change their dance to keep up with it.
Welcome to the world of the Society of Physics Students, an organization dedicated to spreading the message that physics is fun for all and that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to appreciate the beauty of the laws of nature in action.
Prasenjit Bose, secretary of the CSU chapter of SPS, explained the physics behind his dancing flames to the audience. The apparatus, called a Rubens tube, works as the molecules of gas in the tube is made to vibrate at a particular frequency by the sound waves introduced by a black box called a resonator. This wave causes the size of the flames to arrange themselves in a wavelike pattern due to fluctuations in the gas pressure inside the tube which correlate with the frequency of the sound wave.
On Oct. 13, SPS will host a presentation by Achille Nicoletti, a student of physics and electrical engineering, in room 117 of the Science Building. Nicoletti will talk about his cooperative educational experience at Philips Healthcare working with control systems for medical scanning devices.
Faculty adviser Dr. Kiril Streletzky, who helped establish the current incarnation of SPS in 2005 after a years-long hiatus, said he hopes the outreach to younger students can help dispel some of the students’ fears of the sciences. “Physics is not that scary at all,” Streletzky said.
This past March, chapter president Krista Freeman and treasurer Ryan McDonough attended a meeting of the American Physical Society in Pittsburgh, Pa. About 7,000 physicists were gathered, but the only undergraduate students presenting their research came from Cleveland State’s SPS membership, whose presentations dealt with nanotechnology and polymers.
A list of upcoming SPS events, including the popular end-of-semester tradition of making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, can be found on the CSU physics department web site at http://www.csuohio.edu/sciences/dept/physics/physicsweb/spsseminar.htm.
CHECK US OUT ON...
ON THE FRONT PAGE
Investors of tomorrow succeeding today
CSU wins "green" biz award
Alex Storozynski tells the saga of an unknown American hero
New urban partnership to improve city management
Issue 3: Is it worth the gamble?
Waters, Vikes open home slate on Nov.16
"Viking Madness" kicks off CSU basketball season
A swing and miss for Cleveland State men's golf
CSU continues dominance in Horizon League
New student pep band ready for inaugural season