An exception was made Saturday. Dr. Steve Girvin, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics and Applied Physics¹, asked me if I’d like to attend the annual Yale Physics Olympics. How could I say no?
Students from high schools in Connecticut and nearby states sent teams to Yale to compete in fun, though intellectually challenging, physics based games.
They built bridges, redesigned electrical circuits and tried to predict movement in a virtual stock market. I’m sorry – did you mention what you did Saturday?
If your local school board ever asks for a new facility to further education, send them to Yale. Sloane Physics Lab, where the competition took place, is an ancient building. The lecture hall we occupied was probably outmoded 50 years ago. It is still a center of exceptional education.
The kids who gave up their Saturday afternoon are the smart kids. Their intellect probably makes them socially awkward now, but they’ll be the one’s we’re all working for later. Think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and Mark Cuban.
I did a lot of helping out Saturday. I’m not sure they really needed me, but I was thrilled to be a part of the action. I poured liquid nitrogen (somewhere around 325° below zero Fahrenheit) into a Styrofoam vessel for a demonstration on electrical conductivity, rode a bicycle powered by CO2, and a hovercraft lifted by a very noisy leafblower (as immortalized in the attached youtube video).
As someone who works in TV news, where the easiest way for a teenager to make air is to kill or be killed, this Saturday afternoon was a breath of fresh air.
¹ – My knowledge of academia is limited, but I do know an endowed chair is a big deal… even bigger at Yale. As it turns out, he’s a great guy and not at all pretentious about the fact he can think us all under the table.