Jearl Walker


Jearl Dalton Walker (born 1945 in Pensacola, Florida) is a physicist noted for his book The Flying Circus of Physics, first published in 1975; the second edition was published in June 2006. He teaches physics at Cleveland State University.[1]

Jearl Walker
Born1945 (age 78–79)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Maryland
Known forThe Amateur Scientist column
The Flying Circus of Physics
AwardsOutstanding Teaching Award (Cleveland State University College of Science)
Scientific career
InstitutionsCleveland State University

Walker has also revised and edited the textbook Fundamentals of Physics with David Halliday and Robert Resnick.[2]

Walker is a well-known popularizer of physics, and appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.[3] Walker is known for his physics demonstrations, which have included sticking his hand in molten lead, walking barefoot over hot coals, lying on a bed of nails, and pouring freezing-cold liquid nitrogen in his mouth to demonstrate various principles of physics. Such demonstrations are included in his PBS series, Kinetic Karnival,[4] produced by WVIZ in Cleveland, Ohio.

Walker was born in Pensacola, Florida, and grew up in Fort Worth, Texas.[citation needed] He graduated with a degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1973.

Walker authored The Amateur Scientist column in Scientific American magazine from 1978 to 1988.[5][6] During the latter part of this period, he had been the Chairman of the Physics Department at Cleveland State University. He appeared regularly around this time on the long-running CBC radio science program Quirks and Quarks.[7]

From 1981 to 1982 he hosted The Kinetic Karnival of Jearl Walker, a six-episode series for PBS syndication in the US. In each 30-minute program he performed humorous demonstrations before a live audience. The show was distributed to schools as a teaching aide.

He is the first recipient, in 2005, of the Outstanding Teaching Award from Cleveland State University's College of Science. The College's Faculty Affairs Committee selected Walker as the first honoree based on his contributions to science education over the last 30 years.[8] The award was thereafter named "The Jearl Walker Outstanding Teaching Award" in his honor.[8]


  1. ^ Faculty profile, Cleveland State University
  2. ^ Walker, Jearl; Resnick, Robert; Halliday, David (2014). Halliday & Resnick Fundamentals of Physics (10th ed.). Wiley. ISBN 9781118233764. OCLC 436030602.
  3. ^ "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Professor Jearl Walker, Patrick Duffy)". The Paley Center for Media. Paley Center for Media. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  4. ^ "Kinetic Karnival". TV Guide. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  5. ^ "Scientific American's The Amateur Scientist Index". Science Hobbyist. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  6. ^ Walker, Jearl (1983). "The Physics of the follow, draw, and masse (in billiards and pool)". Scientific American. 249 (1): 124–129. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0783-124. JSTOR 24968949.
  7. ^ Suzuki, David (May 18, 2015). Letters to My Grandchildren. Greystone Books. p. 55. ISBN 9781771640893.
  8. ^ a b Antos, Patrick (July 7, 2005). "'Flying Circus' lands Walker science award". The Cleveland Stater. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  • Walker's blog
  • His faculty profile which shows his photograph
  • Another photograph (in the middle)
  • Prof. Walker's essay about his stunts. Boiling water and the leidenfrost effect
  • Website of his latest book Flying Circus of Physics
  • Bed of Nails Demonstration
  • Jearl Walker at IMDb