News for faculty and staff

Contact | Past Issues

Week of October 10, 2011

Saturday Morning Physics offers free, easy-to-understand lectures to public

At a university known worldwide for its outstanding research, shouldn’t some of that knowledge be shared with the public in ways they can understand?

That, according to LSA Assistant Professor of Physics Jeffrey McMahon, is the idea behind the annual Saturday Morning Physics series, now underway.

“We want to give the public a window into the exciting work we do at Michigan,” he says.

McMahon is one of eight speakers at this year’s series, which runs on select Saturday mornings through Dec. 3. One speaker will give an hour-long presentation each week on a different topic. The series will break Oct. 29 and resume Nov. 5.

Also, the Department of Physics’ Ta-You Wu lecture, featuring 2005 Nobel Laureate Theodor W. Hänsch, will take place at 4 p.m. Oct. 26 in the Michigan League Ballroom.

McMahon’s Oct. 15 lecture, “Cosmology with the Cosmic Microwave Background,” will cover the “afterglow” of the Big Bang.

“I’m going to give an overview of the modern picture of cosmology, what the universe is and how it’s evolving,” he says. “I’ll describe efforts to look at the afterglow (of the Big Bang).”

Other topics in this year’s series include renewable energy, energy storage and the physics of the ocean.

Saturday Morning Physics began in 1995, and has continued every fall and winter term since.

The lectures present research in a way that most people can easily understand, using simple, nontechnical language. The speakers typically give hands-on demonstrations of the concepts they discuss, as well as incorporating slides and videos.

“Saturday Morning Physics is more about fun,” McMahon says. “The key is just to get the big picture across.”

Anyone interested in attending can simply show up to the Dennison Building on Church Street. All lectures are free and open to the public.

“Community members of all ages, from all walks of life attend Saturday Morning Physics,” says Carol Rabuck, the administrator of the series. “Our lectures are specifically geared toward the nonscientific community and are very easy to understand.”

Refreshments will be served at 10 a.m., prior to the start of each lecture at 10:30 a.m. A 20-minute question-and-answer session will follow.

The opportunity to interact with the various lecturers should be a draw to anyone interested in attending, Rabuck says.

“The series offers real-life experiences with exciting, live demonstrations, something a printed page cannot do,” she says. “The opportunity to have any and all questions answered immediately is an added bonus. It is this dynamic interaction that makes the experience unique in the community.”

Parking is available across the street at the Church Street Parking Structure for $2 per vehicle.

For a complete schedule of speakers and topics, and for more information on Saturday Morning Physics, go to



What inspires Perry Samson, professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences? "The outdoors. I believe my inspiration comes from nature while hiking, biking or cross-country skiing, though it might just be hyperventilation."


Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies lecture, Emil Tedeschi, 5-6 p.m. Oct. 13, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Room R0210.

View Events
Submit Events