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When physicist and author Chad Orzel wanted to break down physics into its most basic concepts and terms, he turned to his dog Emmy for inspiration: How would you explain scientific principles to a dog?

The result was two successful books; How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog, and How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, Orzel will present “Discovering Your Inner Scientist,” based on his latest book of the same name, at Sacramento State’s Hinde Auditorium. During the 6:30 p.m. free lecture, Orzel will point out the ways people use scientific processes every day, and how science is not something abstract and boring, to be practiced only at sterile research centers by men and women in white lab coats.

The presentation launches a new series of lectures at the University – “Physics for the Rest of Us” – that are designed to help the public better understand discoveries and research in that field.

Sac State Physics Professor William DeGraffenreid, coordinator of the new series, notes that there is a considerable uptick in interest in science because of discoveries such as the Higgs boson, the mystery of dark matter, and even pop culture offerings, such as the TV comedy The Big Bang Theory.

“But people are also intimidated by science,” DeGraffenreid says, “so we wanted to create a forum that has a more welcoming environment for teaching it.”

DeGraffenreid and Orzel have been friends for many years, and Orzel already had been invited to give a more technically based address to the local science community. So DeGraffenreid proposed adding a public presentation.

“I’m a big proponent of our University’s mission to connect to our community,” DeGraffenreid says.

In his book, Orzel points out that people use scientific processes each day while solving crossword puzzles, playing sports, or watching a television mystery. A review in the Albany Times Union says the book “… makes science fun for just about anybody,” a sentiment echoed by DeGraffenreid. “Orzel is very patient in his language and leads you through it step by step,” he says.

Orzel is on sabbatical from Union College near Albany, N.Y. He has a Ph. D. in chemical physics and spent two years studying quantum mechanical effects at Yale.

DeGraffenreid is pleased Orzel could be the first to launch the public forum, and looks forward to more presentations. “We want to bring people to campus. We want people to know what we do here, and we want to share what we do with as many people as we can.”

For more information on the presentation and Department of Physics & Astronomy, visit www.csus.edu/physics or call (916) 278-6518. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156. – Craig Koscho