Jearl Walker is a professor in the physics department at Cleveland State University, joining the faculty in 1973. Walker is originally from Fort Worth, Texas and attended MIT in Boston for his undergraduate studies. After graduation he enrolled at the University of Maryland where he earned his PhD and landed a book deal for his technical report titled, The Flying Circus of Physics. Walker became well known for his unorthodox teaching techniques that have involved walking on hot coals, dipping his hand in molten lead, and lying on a bed of nails. He has appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and was featured in the Smithsonian Magazine. He was a long time writer for Scientific American and currently is in charge of editing the most widely used physics textbook in the United States, Fundamentals of Physics. In this interview Walker chronicles his time at Cleveland State including both his personal life aside from teaching and his experiences in teaching Physics 201. Of particular note is his discussion of appearing on The Tonight Show and his perspective on the major events in Cleveland State's history including the unionization of the faculty in the early 1990s and the split of the College of Arts and Sciences in the early 2000s.


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Walker, Jearl (interviewee)


Wickens, Joe (interviewer)


CSU at 50



Document Type

Oral History


45 minutes

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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