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Physics buskers bring tour to the Green Man music festival

Most festival-goers are open minded about the acts they’re going to see, but are they ready for this year’s show with a difference – Physics in the Field? The Institute of Physics is sending a crack team of physics buskers to the Green Man electro-folk music festival this summer to challenge festival-goers’ perceptions of physics.

The Physics in the Field team of buskers pitch their tents at the festival in the Brecon Beacons, mid-Wales during 17-19 August. Over the course of the three days, they will perform eye-catching physics tricks to an unsuspecting audience.

Physics tricks are hand-held demonstrations using things you can find at home. Some are messy, some are noisy, but all of them are crowd pleasing and help illustrate different areas of physics. Festival-goers will also be encouraged to find out how to do the tricks themselves and give on-the-spot performances to their friends and families.

“It’s brilliant working with the festival goers because they are really interested in what we are doing and want to find out more,” said Liz Jeavans, outreach officer at the Institute of Physics. “What is really satisfying is when you show someone a trick, and they relate it to something they have come across in everyday life – but just hadn’t thought of it as physics before.”

The buskers are also performing two short physics shows during the festival. “Music to your ears” uses sound demonstrations to explain how some of those spectacular music effects are achieved. The second show is “Seeing is believing” which looks at colours and illusions.

And for those festival-goers who can’t get enough, all the tricks performed by the team, including making balloon kebabs, launching Alka Seltzer rockets or turning pints of water upside down over a friend’s head without drenching them, are available on with full explanations.

The shows and tricks are not just for young children, as the buskers will be making every effort to get adults involved as well. “We know that once adults have a go at the tricks, they’re hooked and go on to tell their friends about them. This really helps us in our aim of taking physics to people who wouldn’t actively seek it out,” said Caitlin Watson, the Institute’s physics in society manager.

The final stop in the tour takes place the following weekend, when the team bring their roadshow to the Newcastle Mela (26-27 August).

Charlie Wallace | alfa
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