Physics professor Jon Secaur questions learning, living and the universe in ‘Last Lecture’

Kelly Tunney

Professor Jon Secaur’s speech

KentWired Video

var so = new SWFObject(‘’,’mpl’,’370′,’280′,’9′);





Physics professor Jon Secaur said there are 11 life questions he can’t answer.

Secaur proposed these questions, including the concept of an infinite universe and the basic components of all matter, to roughly 60 students in the Kiva Wednesday as part of Mortar Board’s “Last Lecture” series.

Secaur said these 11 questions are important to consider, though they’re difficult to answer. The subject matter of his lecture was heavy, but Secaur mixed in humor along the way.

“I want to share with you things I don’t understand at all,” he joked.

He titled his lecture “All My Life’s a Circle,” after the chorus of the Harry Chapin song “Circle,” explaining the never-ending circles of life and then proceeded to sing the chorus to the room.

Secaur’s topics ranged from how to think, create and remember to free will and overcoming religious fundamentalism. He also advised against extreme self-interest and the dangers of becoming apathetic.

“The most dangerous three words I know are: ‘I got mine,’” he said.

Secaur also stressed the importance of using college as a time to learn and the importance of gaining a complete education rather than simply working toward a career. He cited his father-in-law, saying that college was a place to “learn how to learn.”

Secaur said his goal was not to give out life lessons to students but to encourage them to think about how they may affect the world.

“I wanted to prepare questions, not deliver knowledge, to have students think about issues that affect us all profoundly one way or another,” he said. “These questions affect how we see the universe.”

Emily Orians, president of Mortar Board, said she appreciated that Secaur wanted students to make a change.

“I liked the overall sense of responsibility he placed in our hands,” she said. “His topics were something everyone hears, and it is our responsibility to do something about them.”

The “Last Lecture” series is gaining popularity at colleges. School organizations ask a well-known professor to speak to students on life lessons and messages outside of the topics they usually teach.

The series is based on Randy Pausch’s book “The Last Lecture,” where he describes a lecture he gave to his students after he learned he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Pausch used the speech as a last opportunity to pass on knowledge he had gathered throughout his life.

Mortar Board plans to continue the series with several additional lectures this semester, though they have not determined the professors that will speak.

Contact Kelly Tunney at [email protected].