Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Flying Circus of Physics

The Flying Circus of Physics is a wonderful book of physics questions. Not number puzzles. Not problems. Questions. Questions drawn from observable, real-world phenomena. It is the product of physics professor and popularizer extraordinaire, Jearl Walker. I discovered the book early in my teaching career and have regarded it as an essential volume for physics teachers (and the physics curious). I present several of Walker's questions to my students as homework throughout our two-year sequence.

As light-hearted as the title might sound, the book is serious physics. "Naked-eye physics," as Walker describes it. In the 1990s, Jearl Walker did a thorough overhaul of my favorite calculus-based physics textbook, Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday and Resnick.

In the better late than never department, I see that Walker updated his treasure-trove in 2006. As with the first edition, it's available in several languages. Walker has also established a robust web presence around the second edition. He's even got merchandise! My T-shirt is ordered an on the way.

Check out Jearl Walker's Flying Circus of Physics. If you teach physics or possess curiosity about the world around you, you should not be without this book.

UPDATE: Oily snorkels! Full episodes of Jearl Walker's Emmy Award-winning Kinetic Karnival can be accessed from a MySpace page posted and maintained by his students. Once on the MySpace page, click "View my ... Videos."

No comments: