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Fire walk with him

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 4:43pm

The department of physics and astronomy hosts a distinguished guest to campus on Thursday sept. 19 with a very unusual bit of expertise to share with all and sundry:

To some, fire walking is an act of faith, belief or mind-over-matter, but for condensed matter physicist John Campbell, fire walking is a matter of thermal conductivity. Campbell will lecture on the subject at the University of Georgia Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. in the physics auditorium.

Campbell, a retired physicist from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, will offer a fire-walking demonstration in the quad adjacent to the physics building following the lecture. The lecture and demonstration are free and open to the public.

"I started doing this when charlatans were charging $200 to train you to control your mind such that you can walk over red hot charcoal and be fine, and that's just bunkum because anyone can do it," Campbell said. "I'm a bit of a charlatan myself because I use science to explain how and why most anyone can do it."

Campbell plans to discuss the reasons why anyone can fire walk and what the rules are, then invite those in attendance to give it try.

We all have to love this kind of general science advocacy. I spoke to Campbell by phone last week and he seems a genuinely pleasant man, with great experience sharing the joys of science with a broad community. This should be fun.

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