PhysicsFest Celebrates International Year of Light is your source for free news and information in Williamsburg, James City & York Counties.

Liquid nitrogen ice cream, an ever-popular PhysicsFest offering, is just one of the kid-friendly attractions at this year's event. (Courtesy William and Mary Physics Department)
Liquid nitrogen ice cream, an ever-popular PhysicsFest offering, is just one of the kid-friendly attractions at this year’s event. (Courtesy William and Mary Physics Department)

The College of William & Mary is hosting its annual PhysicsFest on Saturday, and this year’s theme is “Need For Speed (of Light).”

Science enthusiasts can turn out between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in Small Hall to take in a range of lectures and demonstrations about photon racing, color mixing and optical illusions from the college’s physics professors and students.

“This year is the International Year of Light, so we knew we wanted to do something with that,” said Dr. Irina Novikova, William & Mary physics professor and faculty sponsor of the event.

In honor of the most recent Nobel Prize in physics, attendees will have an opportunity to check out a special Nobel-inspired lecture on neutrino oscillation from Prof. Robert McKeown, who has spent much of his career studying these mysterious particles.

The lecture will be geared toward presenting this topic in terms accessible and understandable for the general public.

One of most highly anticipated presentations of the day is a special appearance of the Ruling Robot Falcons for a Lego robotics demonstration from 1 to 2 p.m. in the physics library.

Festival-goers can also head up to the Thomas Harriot Observatory to view some sunspots during a daylight astronomy session.

If looking and listening is not enough, attendees can get hands-on in the Physics Playroom. Participants of all ages can take part in actual physics experiments and fun, physics-inspired activities such as the pool of Oobleck, a strange substance that demonstrates properties of both a liquid and a solid.

Though there will be plenty of activities and demonstrations geared toward kids, the event promises to be interesting for adults with a more serious interest in physics as well. Tours of the research labs will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with various faculty and scientists on hand to explain their currently projects in the contact of the actual space they work in.

“There is a stigma about physics being boring and complicated, but I guarantee [PhysicsFest] will be a lot of fun,” Novikova said. “There are things for people of all ages to do.”

This fun-filled day of science is free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of lectures and demonstrations, click here.