OGDEN, Utah – In celebration of the holiday season and science, Weber State University will host its first Faraday Lectures on Dec. 16 and 17. WSU President Charles Wight, chemistry professor Michelle Paustenbaugh and chemistry instructor Carol Campbell will conduct several scientific demonstrations aimed at creating curiosity in children of all ages. The free lectures will take place on both nights at 7 p.m. in Lind Lecture Hall Rooms 125-126.
The Faraday Lectures pay homage to Michael Faraday, a renowned English scientist known for his contributions to electromagnetism and electrochemistry. Faraday began his Christmas Lectures in 1825 at The Royal Institution in London and continued the tradition until 1861.
Wight, who will dress as Faraday in top hat and tails, will demonstrate “The Chemical History of a Candle,” the last series of Faraday’s Christmas Lectures.
During their demonstrations, Paustenbaugh and Campbell will dress as science pioneers Marie Curie and Marie Lavoisier, respectively.
Curie, noted for her radiological work, became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903. She shared that prize, which was in physics, with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel. She then won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1911. She is the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes.
Lavoisier was instrumental in the success of her husband, Antoine Lavoisier, who discovered the Law of Conservation of Mass. After marrying in her early teens, she worked alongside her husband in the laboratory. She also contributed detailed drawings of Antoine Lavoisier’s scientific equipment to his publications.
Paustenbaugh’s goal is to show the “beauty and wonder of chemistry,” even through unexpected items such as red cabbage. “Science is all around us, even in your kitchen,” she said.
The presenters will run through an array of demonstrations, including combustion and cryogenic, or low-temperature, demonstrations. The team wants to change any misconception about people attracted to science.
“I’d like to dispel the idea that scientists are grouchy old guys locked away in labs somewhere,” Campbell said.
Wight has participated in Faraday Lectures for nearly a decade, previously partnering with University of Utah chemistry professor Peter Armentrout. Now that the lectures are coming to WSU, and Wight will have different partners, he says the experience will change slightly—but the focus will remain the same.
“It has to do with seeing the excitement on the faces of children as they explore the demonstrations with us,” Wight said.
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