Friday, March 09, 2007

It's Showtime for Scientists

The LA Times ran a story about a science teacher today. Check out the video of explosive classroom techniques.

The story brings back memories of happy youthful days in Berkeley's Pimental Lecture Hall. The hall is round and mostly underground. Students enter at ground level and step down into the theater. The stage is a smaller circle and divided up into three 120 degree stage sections. The audience sees one set at a time. Backstage, one set is being knocked down while another is being prepared for showtime.

It takes many people to put on those shows. Someone has to do that job, why not me? I applied and worked there for nearly three years.

If you had been there in the late 1980's, you would have seen a girl wearing a purple lab coat and eye and ear protection blow hydrogen-filled soap bubbles. Then a man with a very long blowtorch would have ignited the bubble; a resulting yellow fireball would have drifted upwards inside the lecture hall.

I spent a few minutes searching the web and found the demo lab's website. You can read the job description and see the list of staff alumni. I am even listed. (Hi, Lonnie!) Check out the experiment index. Alas, in these risk adverse days, the soap bubbles have been replaced with rubber balloons and they don't do the acetylene bubbles indoors anymore. Mark and I have spent some happy hours together with acetylene torches--but not around Iris. We are not that bad.

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