NOVEMBER 17, 2004


ECU physics chapter wins challenge grant from national physics society

With a new mask of Albert Einstein and a $300 prize from the National Society of Physics Students, members of East Central University's SPS chapter plan a video project with adviser Dr. Karen Williams (far right). Erik Gonzales (from left), Tim Claxton, and twins Levica and Kara Chapman will shoot a video about Einstein's Twin Paradox and explain how Levica's and Kara's ages would differ if one took a long journey into space.


How can twins born within five minutes of each other have greater age differences later in life?

Members of East Central University's chapter of the Society of Physics Students plan to explain that in a video they will make about Einstein's Twin Paradox, using their own chapter's twins, seniors Kara and Levica Chapman of Idabel. They will explain how their ages would differ - up to two years - after one returns from a lengthy journey into space.

The SPS members will fund their video project with a prestigious $300 grant they won in a Chapter Challenge competition sponsored by the National Society of Physics Students.

"Even though most of us don't go out into space and experience this," said Dr. Karen Williams, the ECU chapter's SPS adviser, "the video will illustrate how relativity corrections must be made in global positioning systems and other items many people use on the earth."

The video will be used to help schools and local libraries celebrate the World Year of Physics in 2005, Williams said.

"The WYP is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Miraculous Year in which he published his three great papers and won the Nobel prize," she said. "Every chapter and department in the world will be doing Einstein-related things in the next year."

As a Chapter Challenge winner, ECU sent Tim Claxton as a representative to the Sigma Pi Sigma Congress: "2005 World Year of Physics, Einstein in the 21st Century" in October in Albuquerque, N.M. An ECU senior physics major from Healdton, he presented a poster on ECU's plans for celebrating the World Year of Physics.

Claxton, previously elected associate zone representative for Sigma Pi Sigma's Zone 12, also attended the SPS National Council Meeting held in conjunction with the Sigma Pi Sigma Congress. "We were chosen as an example of a good way to get the word out about Einstein, physics and the World Year of Physics to the physics community at this WYP Kickoff celebration," Williams said

Williams is in her fourth year as president of the Society of Physics Students. This was her last year to preside over the SPS National Council.

"I'm thrilled that our chapter won the challenge and was showcased," she said. "I'm thrilled that Tim Claxton was elected associate zone representative because he got to meet and hear Jocelyn Bell Burnell, co-discoverer of Pulsars; Carl Wieman, Nobel Laureate for Bose-Einstein Condensation; John Marburger, science advisor to the President of the United States, and others also presenting at the congress.

To earn one of three $300 prizes, an SPS chapter had to have an idea that best involves the chapter, the department and the entire community in helping implement its ideas. The best proposals also will be disseminated to physics departments across the country and on the national SPS website ( as ideas for other chapters and groups to use.

Contact: Jill Frye, ECU news bureau coordinator, 1.580.310.5213