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Flying circus of physics


The Flying Circus of Physics

   The Flying Circus of Physics, second edition (published June 2006). To see pages inside the book for free, click on the book cover here, wait for the page to appear, and then click on "Search inside this book" below the book cover image. That facility does not always work well. Click on the "Front Cover" option and then, even if the screen says the image is not available, use the short arrows on the right side to click through the pages.

Italian, German, French, and Korean translations of The Flying Circus of Physics

Part 1 of the Italian translation has just been published
The Portuguese translation is available at
The German translation is available at  .
The French translation of the second edition has been published as two books, the first of which is available at
The Korean translation is available at
The orthodox Chinese translation comes in three parts at
Translations currently in progress: Greek, Serbian, and Estonian






The Amateur Scientist 2.0 CD-ROM

All of “The Amateur Scientist” articles ever published in Scientific American magazine, including the 152 articles I wrote, are available on the product, The Amateur Scientist 2.0 CD-ROM, produced by Dr. Shawn Carlson. Link to vendor's description

Fundamentals of Physics

Calculus-based textbook, Fundamentals of Physics, by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker.
The full hardback books: 7th edition is linked on the left; the 8th edition is linked on the right.
Both editions are available in various versions (full hardback book, hardback book without quantum physics, book in two hardback volumes, book in paperback parts) and in several languages (go to and click on International).


 The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers

       The Flying Circus of Physics with Answers is an earlier, out of print book that has been superseded by The Flying Circus of Physics.  Unless you are a dedicated collector, you probably do not want this version.

The Flying Circus of Physics mug

The Flying Circus of Physics mug

Click here to buy the Flying Circus of Physics mug at  The second mug reads "Got Physics Courage?", something that is needed for most physics classes.


Shirts, tote bag, and wall clock (yes, a clock!)

Golf shirt with the label " Got Physics Courage? ". Going through any physics textbook, including the one I write (Fundamentals of Physics) requires frequent physics courage.

 Flying Circus of Physics - Black T-Shirt
Click here to buy these items at There are many different styles of tee-shirts. Here Jessica Schwan, a student at Cleveland State University, displays her choice of gothic black.


Other Interesting Books
(not by Jearl Walker)

The search for dark matter and dark energy. Readable and fascinating account of the hottest game in town for physicists.

Barrett's book is a bridge from high school to university level physics, teaching a student how to solve problems. Ouellette's book is about the physics of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and is both scientific and campy (as is Buffy herself).
Two very good books of the "Physics of . . ." genre,

Demonstration books

Collections of questions and answers, as in The Flying Circus of Physics.

Books on the science of cooking:



           Louis Bloomfield's popular-science book in paperback (left) and his introductory physics textbook (right)

     John Lienhard's book on invention

Books by Jay Ingram, host of "The Daily Planet" on Canadian Discovery Channel and former host of "Quirks and Quarks" on CBC Radio.


      Adrian Fisher's book on mazes. He is the world's foremost builder of mazes, in the UK, Europe, U.S., and other regions.

      Bill and Rich Sones write the very popular newspaper columns "Strange but True."

Robert Ehrlich has long written about science (especially physics) for the general public.

These books are collections of questions and answers sent into the science magazine New Scientist.
Grimvall has beein writing about science for a long time and this is an excellent collection of some of his work. Stopping Time is a collection of the classic strobe photos by Doc Edgerton, who first showed us how to stop rapid events, such as the bullet shot through an apple that is shown on the cover.
         I constantly refer to these two books. The one at the left is an amazing textbook about optics of the everyday world, readable by anyone. The one at the right is a textbook about sound. 

     One of the most amazing books I have ever read, this book explores the patterns that occur naturally in the everyday world and in a physicist's lab. Readable by anyone.


Konnen's book explores the nature of polarized light in the everyday world. The book by Lynch and Livingston is a beautiful exposition of light and color in the everyday world. The first book by Minnaert is the version that started all modern research on natural optics. The second book is an updated version with excellent photos. All these are readable by anyone.

Greenler's book is a classic and has been extremely popular. Tape's book is gorgeous.

      A very readable book about the illusion in which the Moon appears to be larger when low in the sky.

Three books by Kenneth Laws who both dances and lectures about the physics of dance.


Four books by an expert on lightning, Martin Uman, whom I have read for most of my life.


Four books by Steven Vogel, who finds an enormous amount of physics in animals.

Four books by R. McNeill Alexander, who is an expert on the mechanics of animals, including (my favorite) dinosaurs.

Storm chasing and the physics of tornadoes

Two books by Craig Bohren from his popular columns in the magazine Weatherwise.

   Elizabeth Wood's classic book on the science that you can see while flying. It got me through many boring airplane trips.

      Spinning Flight covers everything you can think of that spins during flight, from Frisbees, to footballs, to maple leafs that helicopter to the ground. The question about why the sky is blue (most of the time) has fascinated scientists and nonscientists for the history of humankind. Here is a summary of their ideas.


    Here are five books about the physics of various sports.
     An excellent book about measures. See my book review in "News."

Alan Lightman may be the best writer in physics, both fictional, such as in his wonderful Einstein's Dreams, and factual. He writes the preface for Flatland, a classic story how how three-dimensional objects would appear to a two-dimensional being.

These are solid books on the catchy and profound aspects of modern physics. Hidden dimensions may not exist and string theory may not work, but they sure are fun to read about.

     What caught my attention were the descriptions of the electrostatic discharges due to the blowing dust, enough to knock down a man or even electrocute a jackrabbit.

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