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Saturday Morning Physics

Every other Saturday, coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts are free to all science lovers in Weiser Hall.
Malcolm London
Saturday morning at Weiser Hall

Pulikeshi (Keshi) Dayalu was occasionally late for Saturday Morning Physics.

“He would say, ‘ah crap!’ if we didn’t make it [on time], which was always hilarious,” his son, Praveen Dayalu said.

Keshi and his wife Nirmala moved to Ann Arbor in 2012 to be with their son and his family. Keshi was a retired engineer and had a contagious passion for science. So, naturally, when he found out that the University of Michigan (UM) offered Saturday Morning Physics lectures, he was thrilled. 

UM created Saturday Morning Physics in 1995 to present innovative scientific ideas to the public. Tim Chupp, UM Professor of Physics and Biomedical Engineering, has been organizing Saturday Morning Physics since its founding. He expressed that, while everyone knows The University’s football schedule, “there is also a big part of Ann Arbor that is very savvy about [its] learning opportunities.” Chupp said. “We’ve developed a very loyal following over the decades.”

Now, guest speakers come from all over the world (and once, even from outer space) to share their work with hundreds of like-minded enthusiasts.

“All facets of people come here – from age eight to 100,” Carol Rabuck, Co-Organizer of Saturday Morning Physics said, 

Each lecture is about an hour long and most are made to be as family-friendly as possible. Recent subjects have ranged from Bioinspired Microrobots to the Formation of Planets and Stars. 

Praveen remembers his father inviting him to countless Saturday Morning Physics talks.

“He always tried to persuade us to go along with him,” Praveen said. “For me, It was a source of conversation between me and my dad.”

Even when he didn’t go, Praveen would hear all about what his dad had learned the previous Saturday.

“The happiness he got from Saturday Morning Physics was infectious,” Praveen said.

Keshi was one of the group’s most consistent attendees and always arrived with a smile.

“He greeted me every Saturday,” Carol Rabuck said. “And he would bring up the most interesting questions.”

Keshi Dayalu passed away on July 10, 2022. 

December 2, Saturday Morning Physics slide honoring the life of Pulikeshi Dayalu. (Photo Courtesy of Saturday Morning Physics lecture)

“After my dad died, we were all trying to think of ways to honor him,” Praveen said, “It occurred to us that we could give some money to the Saturday Morning Physics program and have his name attached to a lecture.”  

On December 2, 2023, the three large projector screens in Weiser Hall — which usually display an array of scientific fun facts — instead read the words, “Punikeshi Dayalu: Son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend… and Saturday Morning Physicist.” 

At 10:30 am, Praveen was invited on stage to deliver a tribute to his father. He reminisces about that speech often.

“In Hinduism, our funerary traditions don’t have eulogies,” Praveen said. “Not that I missed it, but when I did this [tribute], it felt like a heartfelt eulogy.”

Keshi’s family continues to support Saturday Morning Physics through the Pulikeshi Dayalu Astrophysics Fund. 

“Curiosity is at the top of human virtues,” Praveen said. “It channeled through my dad and was kindled by Saturday Morning Physics. We hope to keep it going.” 

There is no fee attached to any Saturday morning lecture. And if you get there early, coffee, hot chocolate, and donuts are always available.

“We try to keep [people] engaged with new science,” Carol Rabuck said. “I want everybody to come and enjoy this.”

For students of Community High School, there is a Community Resources program attached to Saturday Morning Physics. It’s a great way to get involved with cutting-edge science in Ann Arbor.

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About the Contributor
Malcolm London
Malcolm London, Journalist
Malcolm is an aspiring journalist with a passion for the greater good. By day, he writes articles and performs for the Community Ensemble Theatre. By night, he fights crime and commits admirable acts of heroism. With the shadows as his only ally, Malcolm has single-handedly turned the crime-riddled streets of Ann Arbor into a joyful utopia. This is his first year on staff.

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