Date: Thu Aug 6 10:54:01 2009

Author: chuck...

Subject: Re: Campus Police permission for certain demos


Never ASK for permission to do normal work. To do so would be to mentally
surrender your right of self determination. Notify as a courtesy and make
it plain if asked that you are doing so as a courtesy, not a requirement of
submission. Live free!


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of David Sturm
Sent: Thursday, August 06, 2009 6:56 AM
Subject: Re: [tap-l] Campus Police permission for certain demos

Steve's anecdote about the h.s. teacher is something to recommend.
Although, some would argue it's easier to ask for forgiveness afterwards
than permission before. If we're ever doing anything too loud, we generally
do the same thing we do for fire drills. We call campus security
switchboard and put a note in their log " loud sounds planned in physics
today around X a.m." and leave it at that. That way if they get calls about
"a loud noise", they can say "we know about it already".
Plus, it never hurts (as we found with the Michigan demo show) to involve
the fire marshal in advance and get their office on board. If *good* safety
folks see what's going on, they often end up being encouraging, rather than

My "laughing" anecdote is that I once was told by a *bad* safety person,
that for the classic Melde-type vibrating string experiment and Kundt tubes,
we needed to provide protective earplugs. Of course, that the students
wouldn't be able to hear the resonant pitches seemed not to matter to her.
Much akin to those who've been told you always have to have lights on in an
occupied lecture hall, which makes it interesting if you're doing
demonstrations that require a dark room.

Were it my university sending out such a decree about "permission" though,
I'd be protesting vehemently. Do they put the same memo into every research
lab in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and everything else where
much MORE dangerous things are going on? Do they require their electricians
and carpenters to receive permission in advance before causing electrical
discharges, or hammering loudly? Probably not.

Permission to do demonstrations? I'd probably have to find somewhere else
to work! :)

David writes:
>I was talking to a high school physics teacher about this. She said
>whenever she plans to shoot off a cannon or something, she just sends
>around a notice informing people of what she's about to do. She
>doesn't ask permission--she just informs. Once she's done a particular
>activity once, it becomes "normal" and it becomes expected behavior.
>On Wed, 5 Aug 2009, Steve Anderson wrote:
>> Date: Wed, 05 Aug 2009 15:38:26 -0700
>> From: Steve Anderson
>> Reply-To:
>> To:
>> Subject: Re: [tap-l] Campus Police permission for certain demos
>> > I'm wondering if anyone out there has to get permission from their
>> > Campus Police before doing 'loud or explosive' demonstrations. My
>> > division head just announced this for us saying "inform all
>> > chemistry/physics faculty that they need to obtain permission from
>> > the campus police before performing loud, or otherwise explosive
>> > demonstrations".
David E G Sturm - - 1.207.581.1241 --Physics & Astronomy
Instructional Laboratories --Bennett Hall Lecture Demonstration Facilities
--Mainely Physics Road Show --PIRA President '08-09 Dept of Physics &
Astronomy -- University of Maine
5709 Bennett Hall -- Orono ME 04469-5709