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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Oxford’s First Science Cafe Takes Flight at Luna Pastry Cafe

Tuesday, October 18 the Oxford community will be blinded by science.

Oxonians of all ages interested in discussing science topics will have an opportunity to take part in the newly-created Science Café every third Tuesday of the month at the Lusa Pastry Café on North Lamar Boulevard.

The idea of the Oxford Science Café was created by Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Mississippi, after he was asked to present at a science café in North Carolina.

“Science cafés are now very popular around the world,” Cavaglia said. “I was a little bit skeptical at first, but then I saw it’s very nice because people are relaxed when discussing science. So I said, ‘Let’s try Oxford!’”

The university will sponsor the event through the department of physics and astronomy, which has given money for the café. The pharmacy school and biology department have also helped in getting logistics together for the Oxford Science Café. At each meeting, a different presenter will speak about a topic in science. For October’s meeting, Josh Gladden will speak on “Airplanes to Turbulence to Dark Energy” or in simpler terms, how an airplane flies.

Gladden will relate how airplanes fly to the researchers studying dark energy and cosmology who just won the Nobel Prize in physics.
These meetings are geared toward everyone and are suitable for children and students. No difficult math will be shown and demonstrations may be used to engage the audience to help people better understand.

Lusa Pastry Café was chosen for the location in order to incorporate all age groups. Cavaglia said he wanted a location that is both child and adult friendly, and he said he thought Lusa Pastry Café would be the perfect spot. “Mainly science cafés are held in pubs or bars, but I wanted a place where kids could also come,” he said. “Lusa has been very supportive.” He also said the Oxford Science Café hopes to teach science in a more informal, friendly environment where people can ask questions without being intimidated.

Cavaglia said he also hopes to teach about different topics in science without too much math or problem solving, so that everyone can enjoy the sessions without feeling that they are sitting in a lecture.

“It will be fun and I hope that people will start coming,” he said. “It’s a different way of doing science other than in the classroom. Also, Lusa has very good pastries, which is another reason to come to the science café.”

November’s topic for the Oxford Science Café will be black holes and neutron stars.

The event will be held at Lusa Pastry Café from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The first half hour will be devoted to a science talk, and the second half will be reserved for questions and discussion from the audience.

from DM by Caitlin Clancy