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Halloween with a Bang!

Eberhard Zwergel's annual science extravaganza ignites Halloween spirit

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October 28, 2010 | by Matt Paolelli

No Halloween at Northwestern is complete without Eberhard Zwergel. For more than a decade, the chemistry department's senior lecturer and demonstrator has dazzled audiences with his annual Halloween-themed science show.

Backed by student dance troupes, a segment of the Northwestern University Marching Band, several cheerleaders and a three-piece rock band, Zwergel and his team of undergraduate volunteers demonstrate the hotter side of chemistry with a lineup of experiments that usually end in an explosion of fire, a deafening bang or some combination of the two.

"They all have scientific significance," Zwergel said. "And, at the same time, they entertain."

Zwergel can't explain why his show became a must-see tradition for students, but he attributes the event's continued success to the dedication of those involved behind the scenes.

"It takes weeks to prepare and everyone in the show is a volunteer," he said. "I could not do this without them."