U of M Physics Circus brings large-scale stunts and physics lessons to Northrop Auditorium

Media Note: Members of the media may attend any of the school group shows to get photos and video on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 (10:30 a.m.), Jan. 8, Jan. 11 (10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), Jan. 12 (10:15 a.m.) in Northrop Auditorium.

Contacts: Ryan Mathre, University News Service, mathre@umn.edu, (612) 625-0552

Rhonda Zurn, Institute of Technology, rzurn@umn.edu, (612) 626-7959

If you've never seen a physicist drop 20 feet through thin air while his friend shoots a ball at him from a cannon, or grown men shooting streams of toilet paper over an audience with a leaf blower, the University of Minnesota Physics Force has a show for you.

The Physics Force will present its largest show of the year, called the Physics Circus, at the University of Minnesota at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, in Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis. The show is unique mix of physics demonstrations and slap-stick humor suitable for adults and children of all ages. The show is free, but there is a fee for on-campus parking.

The Physics Force is a successful and entertaining outreach program of the Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota's college of science and engineering. The group's goal is to show that difficult subjects like physics and math can be fun and interesting. Each year the group performs for more than 20,000 school-age kids at its annual shows.

The Force consists of six teachers -- Hank Ryan, Jack Netland, Fred Orsted, Aaron Pinski and Jay Dornfield -- along with University of Minnesota physics professor Dan Dahlberg. The group has performed variations of their show at Disney's Epcot Center, on Newton's Apple, and the Knoff-Hoff Show, a popular German television science program.

Demonstrations include dropping Ryan from a 20-foot garret while shooting a ball at him to demonstrate the effect of gravity on projectiles; collapsing a 55-gallon drum using only water to show the force of air pressure, and Dahlberg propelling himself across the stage on a cart by emptying a fire extinguisher to demonstrate how forces come in pairs (for every force, there's an equal and opposite force).

For more information and a video preview of the demonstrations, visit http://www.physics.umn.edu/outreach/pforce/circus