Six physicists from around the country will compete to be named the champion of science entertainment at the University of Minnesota Friday.
Contestants in the Physics Slam on Ice will have 10 minutes to explain their “cool” research to the audience at the U’s Ridder Arena. The winner will be determined by an applause meter.
Daniel Cronin-Hennessy, associate professor of physics at the U, said more than ever it’s important that physicists share their work with the public.
“We want to do it in a creative and unique fashion,” he said.
One presenter plans to make a grand entrance by blasting onto the stage with a sled and fire extinguisher.
“They’re really vying for the public attention,” Cronin-Hennessy said. “They have secret plans.”
The slam starts at 8 p.m., is free to the public and includes giveaways, such as an iPad.
The event is one of the outreach activities of the Snowmass on the Mississippi physics conference going on at the U, the first time the conference has been held on a campus.
The conference, which occurs every several years, allows scientists to discuss and decide what physics programs are most important for the future.
The six contestants were chosen to participate for their gift of public speaking, said Cronin-Hennessy, the conference organizer. Still, they will have a practice session Thursday and receive feedback from speech coach professionals.
“The funding for particle physics has not increased at the rate of other sciences,” Cronin-Hennessy said. “So we would like to address that by improving our communication with the public on the importance of our research, as well as communicating with Congress and other scientists.”
The event is sponsored by the American Physical Society’s Division of Particles and Fields Communication, Education and Outreach Committee.
“It’s going to be fun, and they will learn where their tax dollars go,” Cronin-Hennessy said. “And they will learn why we love physics so much.”