Gene Bickers is a student favorite on campus and is quite possibly the greatest physics professor of all time. I took his introductory mechanics class this semester and was amazed by his mastery of the subject, as well as his dedication to students. Bickers is always helping students out in his office, or in the classroom, and is really great to talk to about the different fields of engineering. Bickers’ class has increased my problem solving abilities. Though he is a difficult professor, he inspires students to rise to the challenge as all great professors do. What pushes Bickers into the competition for The Greatest Physics Professor of All Time, however, are his demonstrations.
Many times over the course of the semester, Bickers would fearlessly trust in the laws of physics for the education (and entertainment) of the students. Two of the most epic demonstrations were the fire walk and bed of nails experiments. The fire walk(shown left) is always done on the last day of lecture and actually attracts other administrators and even the fire department. Bickers made it look more like a cakewalk than a fire walk, but I was still anxious after watching other objects combust in the coals.
My personal favorite is the bed of nails experiment, because something about it just doesn’t feel right, even though you know that physics proves it should be fine. For this demonstration, the professor laid down, sandwiched between two layers of nails, while a concrete block was hammered to pieces on top of him. The force is evenly distributed throughout the many nails and prevents a large impact from any single nail that would cause Bickers harm, but knowing that didn’t stop students from gasping as the assistant brought the hammer sailing down. I love going to class when Bickers is teaching and am really excited for another semester of class with him. I’ve learned so much and have had so much fun in his class. I definitely recommend him as a teacher, and nominate him for Greatest Physics Professor of All Time.