Space is a Cabaret
Lynda Williams were coining catch phrases, this would be her latest: Physics
isnt just a private club, its a modern priesthood.
Like priests, scientists are coming up with theories about our origins
and in many ways, physicists are modern cosmic priests. Williams
says. The primary difference is physicists use mathematics rather
than gods as metaphors to describe the indescribable and they practice
experiments rather than mystical rituals to invoke and test the forces
of nature. For me to put on a cocktail dress and dance around is, in some
ways, blasphemy. It is downright pagan.
Williamsa Sac State alumna, nationally acclaimed physicist and professor
at San Francisco State Universityregularly performs comedic cabaret-style
physics lectures throughout the country. She portrays the Physics Chanteuse,
who Williams describes as a smart, savvy, silly and sexy science entertainer,
a Bette Midler meets Carl Sagan meets Sandra Bernhard meets Bill Nye meets
Laurie Anderson type of science entertainer.
Physicists, like anyone else, need to see themselves in a social
context and engage in self-criticism about what they are doing because
the ramifications often reach far beyond their laboratories, Williams
says. I think comedy is a safe way to do that. It gives people a
socially acceptable and fairly painless way to bring up taboos and fears
while laughing about it. The cocktail dress provides a shock value that
hopefully snaps them out of the intellectual pews and reminds them that,
hey, science is not a church. Its a cabaret, baby, and everyone
is invited to come and play.
Williams performances have attracted a flurry of media attention
from the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune
and the San Francisco Chronicle. According to People Magazine,
Williams puts the fizz back in physics.
Williams, who started out as a journalism major in college, credits Sac
State professor James Phelps as her mentor. If not for Phelps
mentoring and guidance I would not be a physicist today, she said.
Williams has performed for professional science organizations including
the American Physics Society and the American Astronomical Society. She
also regularly produces a show at the San Francisco Planetarium Museum.
She co-owns Science Entertainment with her sister, Bergen
Williams, a screenplay writer, actress and director. Together the Williams
sisters have produced more than a dozen stage and media projects with
scientific themes. Their mission is to produce science media and products
that are accessible, educational and entertaining.
Details: Visit www.scientainment.com.