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BYU Faculty and Students Bridge the Gap Between Magic and Science

BYU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will celebrate National Chemistry Week by hosting “magic shows” on BYU campus Oct. 17-21.  And while most magic shows are all about sleight of hand, these shows don’t need to rely on diversions to astound.

National Chemistry Week is a nationwide event sponsored by the American Chemical Society to encourage chemists in their local communities to engage the public—specifically children and teens—in learning about chemistry.

The magic shows on campus consist of BYU chemistry professors demonstrating extraordinary reactions between various chemicals and substances. Some demonstrations include flaming tornados and the exhibition of the pyrotechnic reaction of thermite, which is powerful enough to melt through a car.

“Also, you’ll probably get to hear helium’s heavier cousin sulfur hexafluoride,” said BYU Y-Chem President Alex Farnsworth.

Y-Chem is the BYU student chapter of the American Chemical Society and its members are responsible for directing the activities associated with National Chemistry Week in Provo. Members of Y-Chem will assist the faculty in preparing and presenting the magic shows. The shows are available to all individuals interested in attending.

“8 to 18 [year olds] are the real target audience, but anyone who is interested in chemistry or enjoys science will enjoy the magic show,” Farnsworth said. “You can always learn something new.”

In addition to the magic shows, members of Y-Chem will sell liquid nitrogen ice cream in the Ezra Taft Benson Building hallways during National Chemistry Week. Y-Chem will also be at the Provo City Library on Oct. 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to share some hands-on chemistry demonstrations with younger scientists.

“I encourage people to attend because we live in a world filled with chemistry, and whether you intend to be scientist or not, it probably should be of some importance to you,” Farnsworth said. “I really hope that in coming, the mystery and the magic behind some aspects of science will be lessened.”

Magic shows will be held on Monday, Oct. 17, in the Ezra Taft Benson Building at 5:00 p.m. in room W112 and 6:30 p.m. in room W111. Shows from Tuesday, Oct. 18 to Friday, Oct. 21 will be held at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. They will be held in rooms W112 and W111 respectively. Admission to the magic show is free, but seating is limited and requires a ticket.  To reserve tickets or for more information on additional National Chemistry Week events, please visit the website here.

By James Collard Posted on