Friday, July 9, 2010

Hey Stoners: Return of the Laser Light Show

Posted By on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM


Take it easy getting up from that couch you've been stuck on for 10 years. This just in from the UA's Flandrau:

Most-requested planetarium program part of a scientific celebration of the laser’s 50th anniversary

Tucson, Arizona — For the last 10 years, a week hasn’t gone by without the question — via phone, e-mail, or in person: “When are you going to offer laser shows again?”

Consider that question answered, as UA Science: Flandrau brings back a Tucson tradition beginning Friday, July 16, as part of a celebration of the laser’s 50th anniversary and the variety of ways that University of Arizona scientists use lasers in their research. Flandrau joins science educators and enthusiasts from around the world, who have been educating the public all year long through activities and sites such as on the importance of one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century in our everyday lives - from shopping at the grocery store, listening to music, and browsing the Internet, to more efficient and painless medical procedures.

Longtime Tucsonans will have the opportunity to revisit memories of laser light images dancing inside Flandrau’s planetarium dome to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” as well as introduce a new generation to this beautiful, abstract art form. The laser light show’s rich, vibrant colors, unique imagery, and immersive audio engulf visitors in what can only be described as “3D for your mind.”

And yes, expect Dark Side of the Moon. Keep reading.

“Tucson has never had the opportunity to see laser shows of this quality,” said Michael Magee, technical director of Flandrau’s laser light shows and planetarium director when the shows were last offered in 2000. “People who remember going to laser light shows here are in for a real treat.”

Beginning with the Fall semester, visitors will also have a rare opportunity to explore the history of the laser and the physics behind this amazing and versatile technology in Flandrau’s expansive exhibits hall. The story of the laser will be presented through a unique historical laser display created by the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), featuring over 130 lasers and backdrops describing their history and many applications. A series of lectures and interactive floor demonstrations will give the public an opportunity to hear from the experts about how lasers play a significant role in the science being done at the University of Arizona in fields as diverse as optical sciences, medicine, molecular and cellular biology, astronomy and more.

“The Flandrau exhibits and events will not merely demonstrate how curiosity-driven science can lead to profound and transformational changes,” said Dr. Pierre Meystre, Regents’ Professor of Physics and Optical Sciences. “They will also highlight the central role played by Arizona and Tucson in these developments, with many of the central players, including Nobel Laureates Nicolaas Bloembergen and Willis Lamb, laser pioneers Peter Franken, Marlan Scully, Stephen Jacobs, and many others having chosen to make Tucson and The University of Arizona their home.”

Magee, who has worked at Flandrau since he was a student in 1981, remembers how laser light shows increased visitation and interest in Flandrau exhibits.

“People used to love to come early to the shows just because they knew they could also get a science experience,” he said. “The exhibit hall was always buzzing a half hour before every show.”

In addition to “Dark Side of the Moon,” Flandrau’s Facebook fans can vote for an additional music laser light show by going to

Flandrau will also be offering two educational laser light shows: “Legends of the Night Sky” (constellations Perseus and Andromeda) and “Paradigm Shift” (science and mythology).

Here are the laser light show times:

Monday through Friday (daytime)
Educational Laser Shows: “Legends of the Night Sky” and “Paradigm Shift”

9, 10, 11 p.m. — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”

9, 10, 11 p.m. — Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”

Thursdays (Family Night — beginning July 22)
7, 8 p.m. — Family friendly music laser light show
(Family-oriented exhibit hall activities and family discount of $7.50 for adults, $5 for children)

Laser Light Show Admission (includes exhibits)
Adults: $10
Children (4 to 15 years old): $7.50
Children under 4 years old: Free
Cat Card Holders and Arizona college students (with ID): $7.50

General Admission (includes Planetarium shows, exhibits, and UA mineral museum)
Adults: $7.50
Children (4 to 15 years old): $5
Children under 4 years old: Free
Cat Card Holders: $2 off
Arizona college students (with ID): $2

Flandrau General Information
For more information about UA Science: Flandrau go to
For general information call 520-621-STAR (7827)
To schedule a field trip online, go to or call 520-621-4516 for more information
Join us on Facebook at
You’re welcome to join the conversation on Twitter at username: @FlandrauAZ

Flandrau Parking Information
UA Science: Flandrau is located on the University of Arizona campus on the northeast corner of Cherry Avenue and University Boulevard. Free parking is available on the University of Arizona campus on weekends, and after 5 PM Fridays in metered spaces and many parking lots. Parking is also available in the UA Cherry Avenue Garage.

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