Brainteaser posters aim to get people thinking about physics


ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN:PHYSICISTS HAVE found a novel way to get people to engage with their subject during Science Week. The Institute of Physics has plastered buses and trains across the island with posters asking important questions.

One for example asks: “Two filled cola cans, one frozen, one liquid, roll down a short smooth slope – which one gets to the bottom first?”

Another asks: “What happens if you try to light a candle inside an orbiting space station?”

The poster campaign, Transport Yourself with Physics, was all about getting the public to engage with the subject, said Alison Hackett, policy officer with the institute.

The institute, with the support of the Government’s Discover Science and Engineering programme, organised the campaign, which was launched to coincide with Science Week Ireland.

The posters are now visible on buses and trains in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. In Dublin they are installed along Dart and Arrow train services and on Dublin Bus. About 200 buses in Northern Ireland have posters in place, Ms Hackett said.

There is also a degree of instant gratification for those looking for answers to these burning questions. You can text your multiple-choice answer to a specified number at standard text rates, and get an instant response congratulating you or giving you the correct answer.

“Physics is all about asking questions and being curious about the world around us,” Ms Hackett said. “The posters grab people’s attention before challenging their idea of physics.”

The questions are engaging but you have to think before answering. “Most of the questions do surprise,” she said, for example: “A clock on the equator runs slower, faster or identical to one on the North Pole?”

The numbers to text multiple-choice answers to are 087-9382257 in the Republic and 028-71042040 in the North.

Find more questions at