Scientists work magic on audience

A wizard, a team of tame physicists and an alpenhorn made from a toilet bowl kept the audience captivated at the ''Different Bangs'' science show on Saturday.

The ''show and tell' event at the University of Otago's Allen Hall Theatre attracted about 60 parents and children.

The show was one event on the first day of the New Zealand International Science Festival.

The catalyst that provided much of the chemistry - and sparked plenty of audience reaction at the event - was University of Montana professor of chemistry Dr Garon Smith.

Dressed in a wizard's hat and long cape, and on a six-month sabbatical, he became G Wiz, who could turn clear liquids dark with a wave of the hand, and ''freeze'' liquid with a tap of his wand.

''Was that magic?'' he asked his young audience.

''No, it's science.'' he told them.

G Wiz explained how scientists used a hypothesis to develop theories about things they study.

Some local scientists used blowtorches, tubes and slinkies to explain sound waves, and odd glass instruments and a toilet bowl to make some fantastical music.

Parents spinning on a seat helped illustrate moments of inertia, big and small.

The festival continues this week.

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