Saturday Morning Physics Fall 2014 Schedule

Beginning on Saturday, October 11th, the University of Michigan Physics department will begin hosting their weekly Saturday Morning Physics lectures.  The lectures will be held Saturday mornings, 10:30-11:30 AM in 170 Dennison on central campus. These events are free and refreshments will be served from 10:00 to 10:30 AM prior to the lecture.

Designed for general audiences, the lectures are an opportunity to hear physicists discuss their work in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms. The multimedia presentations include hands-on demonstrations of the principles discussed, along with slides, video, and computer simulations.

You can find out more information by clicking here, including parking suggestions and seminar guidelines.

October 11 Dynamic Locomotion in Humans, Animals, and Robots C. David Remy (U-M Mechanical Engineering) Humans are really good at using their legs. We can walk, run, skip, dance, climb stairs and ladders, jump over fences and ditches, and do lots and lots of other things; and we do so with an incredible ease and efficiency. It is only when we try to replicate these abilities in robots, that we realize how incredibly hard they are to accomplish. This presentation is about the challenge of building machines that walk and run like humans and animals. The talk highlights things that we can learn from nature to achieve this goal and what we can learn about nature in doing so.

October 18 The Physics of Baseball Timothy Chupp (U-M Physics) We will explore some of the physics and physiology of baseball and other sports including pitching, hitting, reaction time, the home run swing, collisions at home plate and the radar gun. Be prepared to be part of the action.

October 25 Measuring Your Technique to Improve Your Game Noel Perkins (U-M Mechanical Engineering) This lecture will review a new wireless sensor technology that measures athletic performance. Professor Perkins will review how this sensor works and then illustrate its use in sports ranging from baseball to golf to fly fishing, among others. He will end by describing how this technology is being commercialized by companies through partnerships with the University.

November 1 Ryoji Ikeda’s superposition UMS/SMP Special Event! 10:30 AM Power Center (U-M Main Campus, 121 Fletcher St. 48109) For information about superposition performances, visit The creator of superposition Ryoji Ikeda is joined by physicists Adam Frank (University of Rochester, New York and founder of NPR’s “13.7 Cosmos& Culture” blog) and Anthony Aguirre (University of California, Santa Cruz). superposition is about “the way we understand the reality of nature on an atomic scale and is inspired by the mathematical notions of quantum mechanics.” U-M Physics faculty member Fred Adams moderates the discussion. Presented in collaboration with UMS.

November 8 Responsible Environmentalism: A Physicist’s Perspective Gregory Tarlé (U-M Physics)From energy production and distribution to global warming, it is easy for the public to become confused by a vast array of conflicting information. In the name of environmentalism we sometimes can adopt positions and policies that are ultimately damaging to the environment. In an effort to promote “responsible environmentalism” we will employ physics and data-driven methods to evaluate those policies that can result in a better world for our descendants.

November 15 Icy Worlds of the Outer Solar System David Gerdes (U-M Physics)Beyond Neptune lies a frigid region of the solar system called the Kuiper Belt. The thousands of minor planets that populate this region are relics from the formation of the solar system, cosmic leftovers that never became part of a larger planet. The Kuiper Belt has a rich dynamical structure that helps shed light on the processes by which the major planets formed. It also contains a small number of distant outliers whose orbits cannot be explained by interactions with the known planets in their current configurations. Professor Gerdes will describe the characteristics of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), and discuss a search for new TNOs we are conducting using data from the Dark Energy Survey. He will highlight the discovery of several new TNOs made this summer by undergraduates at Michigan.

December 6 Peering into the Atmospheres of Strange New Worlds Emily Rauscher (U-M Astronomy) In the last 20 years over 1,500 planets have been discovered orbiting around nearby stars and most of these exoplanets are completely unlike anything in our solar system. Astronomers have developed incredible methods that allow us measure the atmospheric properties of some planets, giving us clues as to the physical conditions on these exotic worlds. Dr. Rauscher will discuss the current status and future of these grand endeavors.

December 13 The Mechanics of Running Daniel Ferris (U-M Kinesiology) Despite centuries of research on human and animal running, there is still a great deal that we don’t know about the biomechanics of running. There are many myths about running that have been discredited in recent years, and new studies have turned up some surprising findings and debates. The presentation will also address limits on the speed and energy costs of runners.