Soapboxing with Kawaler
by Ben Godar
Daily Staff Writer

Editor's Note: SoapBoxing is a weekly feature in which members of the Ames and Iowa State communities rave about their interests. To suggest someone for an interview, send an e-mail request to This week, Steven Kawaler, professor of physics and astronomy, was interviewed.

The movie "Pi" -- "I loved it; I thought it was fabulous. My brother is a rabbi, and so I recommended it to him for the [cabalistic] side of it. It's not the kind of thing where I sat there and thought 'can that be right?' because it was irrelevant. It was enough detail to make the story. But my brother will probably blow apart the cabalistic side of things."

King Buffet -- "My favorite place to go when I'm really hungry is the King Buffet. They lose money on me. I have dessert, and then I start over again."

New York Yankees -- "There's the Yankees, and then there's the rest of the teams in baseball. There's Yankees, if you want to talk baseball. I stuck through some really rough years in the '70s, early '70s with the Yankees.

Bad classes -- "There's Archaeology 101 at Cornell [University] as an undergraduate. I had a kick-ass interest in archaeology when I was a kid. I wanted to be an archaeologist. I took this class and realized how boring archaeology could be. The course was miserable. I once fell asleep in one lecture during the Bronze Age, and I woke up during the Industrial Revolution. I slept through several thousand years of human history."

Sour pickles -- "[My favorite pickles are] Kosher pickles from the Carnegie Deli in New York. There hasn't been one here yet in Iowa. Except the ones my in-laws bring when they visit. [The pickles] are iridescent green. They're kind of scary. Even the ones you buy -- like Vlasic, the kind you buy in the supermarket -- they're not real pickles. I'm a pickle snob."

Voting habits -- "I have yet to find a Republican I could vote for, and I've been voting since 1976."

Fight: Albert Einstein vs. Edwin Hubble -- "In terms of Einstein and Hubble, they could have a pipe smoke-off and I think Hubble would keep his pipe lit longer than Einstein. But if it was just in the mud, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. I'd have to take Hubble. Einstein was a pacifist, so he'd let Hubble pummel him."

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This article was published on Friday, February 5, 1999.
Copyright 1999 by the Iowa State Daily Publications Board. All rights reserved.
No redistribution without the express written consent of the Iowa State Daily Editor in Chief.