Legislator promoting time machine at UA | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Legislator promoting time machine at UA

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 10:12 AM

State Rep. Jon Woods, who's seeking a Senate seat this year, has other weighty matters on his plate. From his Facebook page:

If your interested in Time Travel or a fan of Albert Einstein please clear out this Friday at 400pm. I've asked the U of A to fly down Theoretical Physicist Dr. Ronald Mallett from the University of Connecticut to give a colloquium Friday 400pm Room 133 in the Physics Building followed by a book signing. Dr. Mallett has been on the history channel, discovery and CNN about his time machine theories. We are looking at building the worlds first time machine on campus in Fayetteville using lasers to twist space. In the science community it is called "frame dragging". Watch this link below [above] to get better understanding.

If Woods, a UA marketing grad who plays bass in a rock band, could only work out this machine soon enough, he could find out now if he's going to win that Senate primary in May. I've sent him a note asking about who's underwriting the cost of his visiting lecturer and who's participating in the time machine construction project.

UPDATE II: Several days after I posted this, I did get a Facebook message from Jon Woods:

I asked the Physics Department if they would consider Dr. Mallett to be part of the Physics Department's lecture series for the semester. They agreed and flew him down. My posting of the subject was to generate more public interest in physics, nanotechnology, quantum mechanics and Einstein's general theory of of relativity. "Time Machine" was used as the hook to draw interest. It was a fun week.

UPDATE: Jon Woods doesn't deign to respond, but I did get a prompt and nice and even humorous explanation from the University of Arkansas's Charlie Allison, managing editor in the office of university relations:

Dr. Mallett is lecturing at a physics colloquium tomorrow at the Physics Building with a lecture titled “Relativity and the Science of Time Travel.” His lecture is non-technical, or at least as non-technical as any talk of relativity can be, and aimed at the general public. He is one of nine scientists who will be lecturing this semester as part of the physics department’s colloquia series. My understanding is that a state representative did suggest Dr. Mallett as a potential speaker, although I haven’t yet verified that it was Rep. Woods. The physics department, though, makes any final decision on whether to invite a speaker.

The physics department does not pay an honorarium to its speakers, but the department does pay expenses incurred by the speaker, such as flight, lodging and meals. We don’t know Dr. Mallett’s expenses yet, so I can’t give you an accurate cost on that. If you want me to check what costs were for the fall 2011 lecturers, let me know. Of the nine lecturers this spring semester, seven are traveling from outside of Arkansas, a couple from as close as Tulsa and Springfield, and others from as far away as Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. The schedule for this spring is at http://www.uark.edu/depts/physics/apps/events.

I am assured that the physics department is not building a time-travel machine. Tongue firmly in cheek: The only time machine built recently on campus is the clock installed in the south tower of Old Main in 2005 to celebrate the success of our Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. That clock appears to work just fine in its measurement of our movement through the space-time continuum. We do not appear to need another time machine at this time.

However, physicists who get together are apt to talk about things like time machines and time travel, both in theoretical terms as they relate to the theory of relativity and in applied ways that might test that theory. I wouldn’t be surprised if that conversation happens at this lecture, too.

If you know of physicists whom you think would be good lecturers in the colloquia series, I am sure the physics department would be open to considering them for the fall 2012 semester. Feel free to send suggestions to me or directly to the physics department.

Physics? Me? Not likely.

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