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The image of a women was seen through the eyes of a glow worm, a mouse through the eyes of a snake, and other images of the world at wavelengths of light the human eye cannot pick up. The show also became something of a social occasion, part cocktail party, with a twist of science:
". . . then he calculated the number of square inches on the knuckles that would be needed to break the bricks. And he did it . . .!"
When Walker introduced the show to the crowd of more than a thousand in the Sheraton ballroom, he explained that the courses are designed not for students who will go on in science, but for those who think they don't like science.
Scientists who watched the show commented afterward that they enjoyed the display, even though it did not offer much explanation of the physics shown.
Walker, barely tall enough to peek out over the podium, has a hint of Woody Allen about his manner.
The credits were a series of slides. One slide showed Walker and two colleagues from the waist up. All appeared to be the same height. The next slide showed the three from the waist down - with Walker climbed up the scaffolding behind out a scuffed brown suitcase and started to squeeze the show back into it the way you would press a genie back into his bottle.
"People have a negative attitude towary physicis," he said as he packed, "and I would like to try to change that a little bit. People think physics is something that is done by oddballs, oddballs with frizzey hair. They think physics is something you do in a plae called "The Physics Building,' and if you go home you can't do it anymore.
"I put my finger down in a container of molten lead. About a thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
"I can dip it in and out because, if I wet my finger first, the moisture on my finger, when it hits the hot lead quickly, evaporates. So there is briefly a layer of vapor between my finger."
I don't need to I sweat a lot before I walk on the coals.
"And if that's not enough, the prospected to treating on the tyrning coals always bring its own possibility for moisture."
When he drinks the liquid nitrogen, a similar vapor layer protects his tongue from the frigid fluid. He quickly bowns in a great white plume - the icy version of a circus fire-eater's act.
Walker of a circus fire-eater's act.
Walker is 33 years old and has been teaching physics for five years. After two years he decided something more than the same of old equations was necessary to make a physics course popular. "Students were reluctant to take physics courses. The enrollments had been dropping for years. Now his class has about 150 students regularly, and as many as 1,300 uninvited students for the more exciting sessions.
Walker pushes his long hair black over his ers: "What I like to do most are things and run counter to intultion or common sense," he said. Einstein once said that common sense is nothing but the sum of all prejudices collected by age 18.
Walker gave an example from his book, "The Flying Circuit of Physics":
If two buckets of water are placed outside on a very cold night, one warm and one extremely hot, which one will cook and then freeze first?
The common sense answer is the cooler water.
"It doesn't," said Walker, "The hotter one freezes first. There is more evaporation from the hotter water, so it loses more mass and more heat from the active molecules."
Walker's show, "Night Flasher," cost little to put together, Walker said, "in dollars - only the cost of getting the slides made. There was also about 300 hours of work I put into it." He has borrowed projectors and the small red laser used to the show from his university.
As he put away a broken piece of glass with the slides, he said, "This is for the laser part of the show. I smeared some airplane glue on here, and put these concentric circles here. Then during the show, I hold this up in front of the laser and try to move it to the beat of the music . . ."
His ambition now is to get a small grant and use the money to make a real physics show, "with films and special effects and everything. "Then, I would put everything in a trailer, hitch it up to my car, and ride around the country talking about physics . . . That's my dream."