Physics Phest is a community celebration of the relationship between the arts and physics—a night filled with music, dancing, visual and interactive arts. Pomona faculty members and students will demonstrate their physics and arts projects and multidisciplinary collaborations. Featured music includes Alex Cole and the Inland Emperors and Prof. Dwight Whitaker with Los Whateveros. Prof. Thomas Moore will lead the audience in contra dancing, Prof. David Tanenbaum will demonstrate interactive labs and nanotechnology, and Brackett Observatory will be open to visitors. Physics Phest will be held on Thursday, May 2, from 5:30-10 p.m. at Sontag Greek Theatre (adjacent to Seaver Theatre, 300 E. Bonita Ave., and east of Oldenborg Dining Hall, 350 N. College Way; in the event of rain it will be held in Doms Lounge, Smith Campus Center, 170 E. Sixth St.).
First held on Alumni Weekend in 2011, the student-driven event is an opportunity for students to showcase their multidisciplinary creativity and energy. The 2011 event (Physics Phest was rained out in 2012) featured a wide array of exhibits, performances and demonstrations, including: student art that used infrared cameras and high-speed physics video equipment; performances by several student bands; exhibits of student-built devices such as a programmable music-making circuit with lights and buttons; a performance art exhibit in which people would enter into a special "coffin" where a video program would play on a monitor mounted inside; the implosion of a gigantic barrel with stem power; and a Tesla coil.
Developed by students, faculty and staff, that first event proved to be contagious. Alumni leaving their dinner event in Frank Dining Hall heard the music and festival noises and followed those sounds down to Sontag, joining the students for dancing and conversation—making it a cross-generational evening. And thanks to Twitter, what started as an event for physics majors was soon flooded with 5C non-physics students, said Cathi Comras, academic coordinator of the physics and astronomy department.
Prof. Bryan Penprase called the evening "a wonderful blend of crazy physics with artistic energy." Physics and the arts are natural companions, he says.
"Physics and art are both essentially creative explorations of what is possible. Physics expresses these possibilities in mathematics, while the visual arts tries to represent a picture of them. In both cases the imagination of the practitioner begins with a vision, and these visions underlie both subjects and inspire scientific discovery and artistic creation."
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