On Wednesday, a couple of us grad students along with Dr. B, the undergraduate advisor, went to Busch Gardens as part of Physics Day, 2006.
The three of us were we same three that judged the science fair a couple months ago. Physicist #3 was James, who since then has given me permission to use his real name on my blog because as he puts it, "I don't give a crap. " Physicist #2 is yours truly, and physicist #1 recently got his Ph.D. so I will refer to him as Dr. Badass because he is also huge and black and chiseled.
The fact that Dr. Badass is black is important to this story because for two outreach activities it has been us three. I remarked while waiting for Dr. B, "Do you think it's a coincidence that he always gets a white guy, a black guy and a woman to do this stuff?" Dr. Badass replied, "Not at all. Just call me token."
The four of us (the ultra diverse grad students and Dr. B) put on two physics shows at Busch Gardens demonstrating a variety of physics concepts which involved flinging eggs, beach balls and leaky bags of water. We let the kids glide on a hovercraft and propel themselves on a wagon via a fire extinguisher. They beat Dr. Badass at tug-o-war (he was on a frictionless surface so he couldn't "tug") and they beat him a throwing balls at a target (they threw tennis balls, he had to throw a beach ball). It was a good time had by all except James and me who ended up with egg on our faces. Literally. The kids loved Dr. Badass and several asked for his autograph after the show. When we wandered around Busch Gardens, I saw several of the kids point to him, whispering, "Hey! It's that guy!"
We also got a yummy free lunch and free admission to the park after the shows.
James bailed before lunch to meet up with a friend of his that is now a high school teacher who was there with his students. Dr. Badass and me ate lunch with the coordinator and then decided to ride Sheikra, the newest and most impressive roller coaster in Florida. Here are the stats:
Maximum Height: 200 ft.
Angle of 200 ft drop: 90°
Maximum Speed: 70 mph
Total Length of track: 3,188 ft.
Time spent in line: 40 min.
Total time on ride: 3 min
I had not rode a roller coaster in a few years and I felt my age getting off the thing. I was nauseous and my head was spinning. Dr. Badass said, "Boy, I'm getting too old for this." I agreed. Rather than running to get back in line, we got some water, sat down, and feared the day our kids made us ride on every roller coaster one right after the other.