Getting physical with the Physics Club

By Matthew Rainwater

DeKALB | The Physics Club, formally known as the Society of Physics Students, is an organization with plenty to offer students interested in physics.

The club watches movies that are educational as well as extracurricular, and goes on field trips to physics-related facilities in the Chicagoland and Rockford areas, said Jim Brummel, a senior physics major and president of the Physics Club. They hold monthly movie nights, help out with physics outreach events and plan to have an end-of-semester video game day on Dec. 15.

“It’s a way to relieve the stress from the semester, and just have fun,” said Ryan Sievert, a sophomore mechanical engineering major.

The organization is looking into copyright issues involved in screening for next semester a documentary called “What the Bleep Do We Know?” The 2004 documentary combines interviews with physics and philosophy professors, and fictional narrative with a connection between science and spirituality.

“The movie gives us different insight into physics,” said Steve Zownorega, a junior physics major. “Just tells us this is what it is or isn’t.”

Brummel is hoping for the Physics Club to have a joint meeting with the Philosophy Club to discuss different views within the documentary. They plan to get several professors from physics and philosophy to see what their views are toward the documentary’s content.

Brummel wrote a proposal for grant money to work with a neutron source crystal as part of NIU’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

A research group at UCLA found that if you take this particular crystal and heat it up, it can generate a high voltage, said Larry Lurio, associate professor of physics and the faculty adviser of the club.

They hope to use the crystal in the quantum physics lab, since they are unable to work with plutonium. NIU cannot afford to use the radioactive substance because of a government fee. Brummel worked on the proposal with Lurio.

“The government didn’t like the idea of having it out there,” Lurio said. “And the university balked at the idea.”

Because Brummel was unable to present the proposal in time, he hopes his organization will be able to get enough funding through the physics department or the university; otherwise, they’ll have to wait until next year.

“This is a very new idea,” Sievert said. “We were only able to find one or two papers published about the topic online.”