The Flying Circus of Physics

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The Flying Circus of Physics
Flying circus physics.gif
The Flying Circus of Physics (2nd ed.)
Author Jearl Walker
Cover artist Norm Christiansen
Country United States
Language English
Subject Physics --Problems, exercises, etc.
Publisher John Wiley and Sons
Publication date
1975 (1st ed.)
2006-06-01 (2nd ed.)
Pages 331
ISBN 978-0-471-76273-7
OCLC 64595915

The Flying Circus of Physics by Jearl Walker (1975, published by John Wiley and Sons, second edition in 2006), is a book that poses (and answers) about a thousand questions concerned with everyday physics. The emphasis is strongly on phenomena that might be encountered in one's daily life.

From the preface: "if you start thinking about physics when you are cooking, flying, or just lazing next to a stream, then I will feel the book was worthwhile".

Typically, the questions posed by the book are about phenomena that many readers will have encountered, but not thought through physically. For example:

"Why do many candles, especially small ones, flicker and pop in the last moments before burning out? What determines the frequency of flickering?" (3.110). Walker's answer involves qualitative arguments of capillarity, negative feedback, and latent heat of vaporization.


  • Preface
  • Chapter 1. Slipping Between Falling Drops. (Motion).
  • Chapter 2. Racing on the Ceiling, Swimming Through Syrup. (Fluids).
  • Chapter 3. Hiding Under the Covers, Listening or the Monsters. (Sound).
  • Chapter 4. Striking at the Heat in the Night. (Thermal Processes).
  • Chapter 5. Ducking First a Roar and Then a Flash. (Electricity and Magnetism).
  • Chapter 6. Splashing Colors Everywhere, Like a Rainbow. (Optics).
  • Chapter 7. Armadillos Dancing Against a Swollen Moon. (Vision).
  • Index

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