By Lauren Albright ′16
Every Halloween, the Society of Physics Students (SPS) puts on a spectacular show. The Pumpkin Drop, which started out as a simple experiment, has turned into a tradition students and faculty alike look forward to. The goal is to measure the triboluminescence created when pumpkins, which are frozen solid in liquid nitrogen, are dropped from the roof of the six-story Rhodes Tower. Theoretically, the pumpkins should spark when they smash into the ground. Even though the spark has never been witnessed, the experiment always draws a crowd.
SPS also put on demos and smaller experiments leading up to the smashing finale. The experiments were all interactive, which allowed curious onlookers to participate in manipulating the laws of physics. While the Pumpkin Drop is the main event, these smaller demos provide a way for the SPS members to demonstrate how fun physics can be. This year’s Pumpkin Drop also included a professional laser light show featuring the Lynx, the Rhodes seal, and falling pumpkins. The show was put on by physics major alumnus Jim Martin, who directs the laser show for country music star Brad Paisley′s concerts.
The finale was explosive, but, fortunately, the tradition will continue, since the results were inconclusive. See you at next year’s Pumpkin Drop!