Children digest burgers, physics

Janet Urquhart
George Stranahan explains the theory of relativity to youngsters Wednesday at the Aspen Center for Physics. Aspen Times/Mark Fox.

Youngsters and adults digested burgers and the laws of physics Wednesday at the Aspen Center for Physics.The food probably went down more easily than Einstein’s theory of special relativity at the kickoff Physics is for Kids family barbecue/lecture series on the center’s grounds.

“Recovering physicist” George Stranahan, founder of the center, offered his audience an explanation of physics and a short discourse on Einstein’s work, Newton’s law of inertia and the speed of light.His adult audience was attentive; the younger set offered a mix of glazed eyes, diversionary play and rapt attention, followed by a couple of thoughtful questions: “Didn’t light go faster when it was shot through cesium?”

(The answer is no, but what kind of question is that?)The free event continues on Wednesdays through Aug. 17, rain or shine, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. A roofed pavilion is available in the event of inclement weather. Next week’s talk will feature Pierre Ramond discussing “How the Sun Shines.”

The newly formed Aspen Science Center, created as a community outreach effort by the Aspen Center for Physics, has organized the lectures.”Too frequently, people think young kids can’t completely understand big concepts, but if you explain it – it’s all in the explanation,” said Kevin Ward, the Aspen Science Center’s executive director.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is