Joe Heafner in front of bookcases filled with astronomy and astrophysics textbooks. Joe is wearing a black Hawaiian shirt with pink palm trees on it.
Joe Heafner

This blog is maintained by me, Paul J. “Joe” Heafner. I have taught undergraduate astronomy and physics for nearly thirty years in western North Carolina. I am an active member of AAPT at both the state and national levels. I have chaired the AAPT Committee on Space Science and Astronomy and the Committee on Physics in Two-Year Colleges. This blog serves as a (partial and incomplete) chronicle of my work in raising the bar in teaching introductory physics, or at least in trying to. I hope I’m not causing too much damage. Please remember that you don’t have to agree with anything I say here, but if you do that’s okay too.

My current curriculum vitae is available for your amusement:


I have a scholarly presence on Mastodon.

I am available for tutoring physics, astronomy, programming with VPython, Web VPython (formerly known as GlowScript), and LaTeX, and mathematics (serious students only, must commit to full time study with no interference from job or athletics). Hit me up on the contact page.

Comments 7

  • Thank you for doing what you do.

    • Thank you. I hope you’re doing well.

      • Yes sir, I am looking/feeling like a million bucks.

        And Joe, since you apparently refuse to engage in shameless self-promotion, I suppose it’s up to former students to do it for you. The World deserves to know about “sticks and shadows” and the LCTTA materials ( The latter I still have my original copies, and use it to help people who are on the fence about thinking for themselves.) I ,for one, would love to see you in public debates about a wide range of topics, anywhere from education to freethinking to why Apple is better etc.

        It’s been a few years, but I’m ready for another book recommendation. Richard Dawkins’ “The blind Watchmaker” imparted the best understanding of Darwinian evolution I could have hoped for, And Christopher Hitchens is a joy to read no matter the subject. Finished “The Elements” and “The Magic of Reality” as well. Go ahead, name a few more I should read as an aspiring amateur scientist, promise I’ll read them as if I just found my girlfriends diary.

        Wish you the best.

        • Well for general reading, Lisa Randall has a new book out called Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs that’s very interesting. If you’re not afraid of a little math, check out The Theoretical Minimum: What you Need to Start Doing Physics by Susskind and Hrabovsky. On the other hand, Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller is also excellent. I met him at a conference in California a few years ago.

  • Best teacher I have ever had. Colors don’t exist!

  • Thank you, truly. It may take me six months or more to get through it all earnestly, since you have a habit of recommending books that I must frequently set down and either ponder intently, or patch-up gaps in my understanding by doing a bit of research. I’ll start with Lisa Randall.

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