sealPurdue News

April 9, 2003

Purdue pits 'the Einsteins against the bugs'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Paul Bunyan versus the chain saw. John Henry versus the steam drill. Add the name of Dan Capps to that list of man pitted against machine when he attempts to spit a cricket farther than the Purdue University physics department's "monkey gun" on Saturday (4/12) during Spring Fest.

Capps is the world recordholder for cricket spitting, and two shows that feature his attempt to outdistance the physicists' brainchild will be featured at Spring Fest. This marks the first time the physics department's FunFest and entomology department's Bug Bowl have joined forces.

"The theme of this year's show is 'Einstein vs. the Bug,'" said Julie Conlon, outreach coordinator for the physics department in Purdue's School of Science. "We are trying to illustrate humanity's continual strife against the planet's insects, which outnumber us millions to one."

Though competition is the theme, the two departments will use humor to make their points. Besides Capps' appearances, the shows also will feature demonstrations of other methods mankind has employed in the struggle with insects – methods that have not always worked.

"The emphasis will be on the humorous nature of our coexistence with the insects, not on the violence of our attempts to eradicate them," Conlon said. "More often than not, the bugs win. We will be teaching physics and entomology through entertainment."

The shows will begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in Physics Building, Room 114. There also will be physics-related activities in rooms 238 and 242, in which children elementary school age and older will find several hands-on activities to learn about science.

The entomology department also will have its annual Bug Bowl in several locations around campus. Smith Hall will host cockroach racing and the insect petting zoo. Several contests and pinned insect displays will be available in the Agricultural Administration Building, and in a tent outside there will be a cooking with insects demonstration and T-shirts for sale. Anyone who wants to try to beat Capps' record can try cricket spitting on the Memorial Mall. All Bug Bowl events will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

This year's Spring Fest offers a wide range of activities. Seven schools are participating, including Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Science, Education, Liberal Arts and Engineering. For more information on Spring Fest, visit the web site.

CONTACT: Conlon, (765) 494-0740,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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