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Graduatestudent 'mixes' magic

Nov. 10, 1999

By FRANK BURNS

Reporter

Frozen fruit shattering on contact with the ground, liquids changing colors by themselves, and deafening explosions are just a few of the highlights of the Chemistry Department Magic Show. The show, Tuesday night in Room 100 of Marrs McLean Science Building, got good responses from the large crowd.

'It was great. You're not even going to believe it,' said Nelson Stratton, a senior biology major from Sugarland Texas.

'Chemistry is important to have, to use, chemically,' Stratton said.

Dave Walsh, a graduate student working toward his doctorate in chemistry, was the host of the first annual magic show of its kind. Walsh is from New York and got his undergraduate education at Alfred University. He said Baylor was his choice for graduate school because the chemistry department is 'small and very personal.'

'It makes it nice. You're not a number,' Walsh said.

Walsh started off the show by lighting three fires on the display table. The flames ranged in color from green and gold to brick red. Walsh said the green and gold fire was no accident.

'I am very patriotic to my graduate school,' Walsh said.

Later, Walsh mixed solutions together in a beaker and the color of the mixture changed between blue and yellow several times.

'It's a reaction that you can pretty much set your clock by,' Walsh said.

Walsh received a laugh from the crowd when he attempted to begin an experiment that required tomato juice and an audience member told him to drink it.

'I've done some crazy stuff, but I'm not going to drink tomato juice,' Walsh said.

The magic show again got the attention of the crowd when Walsh dropped a piece of dry ice into a beaker of liquid. The frothing mixture turned purple, blue, green and then yellow, inciting a Sic'Em bears chant from the crowd.

Walsh further impressed the crowd by pounding a nail into a board with a banana. He was able to do this after he froze the piece of fruit with liquid nitrogen.

Huge applause also followed Walsh's elephant toothpaste demonstration. He piled a concoction of chemicals into a tall glass beaker. The reaction created a foam cylinder that shot out of the container like a snake and curled into a pile on the table.

Walsh ended his show with a trio of explosions that captivated the crowd.

He held balloons filled with hydrogen over a candle flame, which ignited an explosion, that sent a blast of air felt even by the last row of audience members.

Walsh ended his presentation with a small fireworks display created only by a chemical and water. When the chemical was added to the container of water, sparks flew out in all directions as it popped and fizzed.

He remarked that one of his teachers had launched a bucket of the chemical into a lake.

Katie Willborn, a pre-med and art history major from Amarillo, took a break from studying biology to see the show.

'I thought it was very interesting,' Willborn said.

Walsh said he thought the magic show went well and he could not have done it without the help of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemistry Society.

'I was nervous because of the explosions,' Walsh said. 'I tried all the experiments earlier, but on a smaller scale.'

Walsh, who is the president of the Chemistry Graduate Students Association, said he is planning to do more shows.

'I'm anxious to keep doing these. They're going to get bigger and better,' he said.