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Science billboards “enlighten” motorists

Caren B. Les, caren.les@photonics.com

The effects of physics are visible throughout the world around us, but this autumn a set of billboards took that visibility to a whole new level, offering West London motorists and pedestrians a little roadside enlightenment in the form of Schrödinger’s equation.

The vital but little-known physics equation – a description of the ways in which light and matter behave when they interact at the smallest scale – was devised in 1926 by Austrian theoretical physicist Erwin Schrödinger following an intense international scientific effort. It has led to many technological developments in the modern world, including solar panels, GPS, electron microscopes and fiber optics.


To spark interest in science, billboards depicting the iconic Schrödinger equation – the basic equation of quantum theory – were displayed on London streets through early November 2012.


The billboards’ artwork featured white symbols dancing against a backdrop of deep blue and directed those who wanted to know more to visit madecurious.com.

The project was born of a collaboration between an artist and a scientist. “I wanted to create something that was highly visual and simple, yet at the same time said something deeper about the world in which we live – something that would make people curious enough to investigate further,” said Geraldine Cox, an artist-in-residence at Imperial College London who worked with professor Terry Rudolph, a quantum physicist there.

The two wanted to convey some of the excitement and beauty that scientists find in equations. “Our hope is to open a window to share one of our greatest and most iconic equations, one that has enabled much of the modern world,” Rudolph said, adding that they encourage the public “to get in touch and ask questions about physics or the scientific life.”

The exhibition was installed at Fulham Palace Road and Ladbroke Grove from Oct. 29 to Nov. 11, and managed by Kinetic Worldwide print and project management company Hi Rezz of London.

“Outdoor advertising is great at enhancing changing landscapes such as these along the roadsides in West London,” said Paul Shields, managing director at Hi Rezz, “and the addition of this poster should hopefully make for some very thought-provoking moments for those passing by.”


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