JPL Fundamental Physics Team Wows Visitors to Open House

A record number of visitors to JPL's Open House last weekend crowded around displays showing technology, cryogenic phenomena, and the weightlessness of free-fall. Crowds estimated at over 62.500 for the two-day event enjoyed pleasant weather and roamed throughout the lab grounds to see photo displays, demonstrations, and hardware for space exploration.

This year saw a continued migration of displays closer to the Fundamental Physics crowd-pleasers to share in the flow of visitors past our demonstrations. Solar System Exploration placed their showy large-format photos in between Fundamental Physics and the Mars yard, where rovers were shown climbing rocks and crawling across prone kids. College-student participants in a recent robotics competition also were showing their machines next door to Fundamental Physics. This spreading of the displays up the hill greatly increased the already large numbers of visitors to the Fundamental Physics demonstrations.

As shown in the accompanying photos, the displays at the cryogenics table were thronged throughout the two days. Fun Physics, as the displays were labeled, showed two drop towers during the Open House: one near the cryogenics table; the second on the Universe Plaza with the rest of the Universe theme displays. Both drop towers were kept busy with interested questioners. Crowds asking questions also attended the display of superconducting technology used in our program.

Visitors often parted with words of wonder at the science program being supported by NASA and JPL. The volunteers who demonstrated the unusual phenomena enjoyed explaining the research activities being performed almost as much as the visitors appreciated being enlightened. The hoarse throats earned by answering questioners in the back rows generally recovered a few days after the event.

Images from JPL's Open House