Eleventh-grader Jack Gallahan delivered a compelling speech on quantum physics at the Sarasota Physics Club on July 19 this past summer. Gallahan presented his speech to devoted members of the club, including various physicists, researchers, engineers and science enthusiasts. He had been referred to speak at the Sarasota Physics Club by his mentor, Dr. Jim McGuire.
The Sarasota Physics Club was created by nuclear physicist Pat Anderson, physics professor at Trinity University Dr. Charles Miller, and physics enthusiast Leonard Biberman. The club started with three people meeting at the Blue Dolphin, but has grown to include 55 members from a variety of scientific fields.
Gallahan performed diligent research on quantum matters before meeting with club, for about a year. The young researcher did numerous calculations at home, along with working closely with Dr. McGuire on the research for his speech. Meeting Dr. McGuire through the Suncoast Science Center for a science club meeting a few years ago, Gallahan decided to ask Dr. McGuire to help him get started. The two consulted each other on their findings once a month.
For Gallahan, math had always been a strong subject that he had truly enjoyed. However, it was not until sophomore year that he dived into the application of physics. Dr. McGuire stated that the young researcher had a strong background in physics and was able to easily comprehend the concepts, making it easy to work with him. “The remarkable thing is that the things that he did were really pretty advanced things,” Dr. McGuire said.
After compiling their research, Dr. McGuire guided Gallahan in formulating the speech. In his speech, he discussed his research on quantum mechanics and incorporated concepts including how interactions between light and systems evolved in time. Gallahan aimed to present the research in a simplistic and interactive manner, engaging the audience by incorporating visuals and demonstrations.
“I think it was excellent. [The audience members] were fully involved and they had interest what he was saying,” Anderson said.
One of the many astounded audience members was principal Dr. Stephen Covert, who had attended the meeting coincidentally.
“Literally, they were wrapped attention to this high school student giving a presentation about quantum physics, it was just amazing. He gave a very thorough presentation. There was a question and answer session, and they couldn’t stump him,” Dr. Covert said.
Accoring to Gallahan, he truly enjoyed learning from and interacting with the audience. “It was really cool, especially all questions I got afterwards were interesting because the audience were all so experienced in physics. They were really able to understand what I was talking about, and then they asked interesting questions relating to what they had done in their careers. I learned a lot from them, and they all had really interesting perspectives,” Gallahan said.
After intently listening to the high schooler’s speech, Dr. Covert expressed how Gallahan is a prime example of going the extra degree. “It made me proud that I am his principal. You think about those mottos, going the extra degree. He’s not just learning and keeping it inside; he’s willing to learn, do research and share it,” Dr. Covert said.
Gallahan is currently considering further research projects on physics and quantum matters such as exploring twisted photons and the interactions of atoms.