Welcome to Thinking About Physics

(Physics Q & A)

A series of physics questions is currently being displayed on the buses serving the Five-College community (Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts - Amherst).

(On other bus systems and other places, too - click here for more information.)

On this site we reproduce the bus placards and give a few "answers" to these questions, together with some hints, commentary, and (eventually) some references.

For discussion of the question shown above, click here:

Throwing the Anchor Overboard.


For reproductions of the other bus placards, and our discussions of the other questions that are now on the buses, click on one of the links below:

The passenger-side rear-view mirror.

Turn down the thermostat at night?

The helium balloon in a car

Mailing the bees

Which way does the tricycle go?


Please give us FEEDBACK. Tell us how you got to this website (did you see our placards on the buses?), tell us what you think of our questions and the discussion and answers here, and give us suggestions for further questions and for clarification of the discussion:

To send us email, just click here.  (Be sure to include your own email address if you expect a reply; without it we have no way of knowing who you are.)

Want them on your bus system?; send us an email (and include your own email address). Want to download them and use them in your school, etc? - feel free. (But we'd appreciate knowing about it and what use you have made of them.)

We invite comments, criticisms and suggestions - and especially suggestions for further Thinking About Physics questions (AND answers). We plan to have here soon some more questions and answers (although, until we get some outside funding, we won't be having new drawings, nor will we be able to put them on buses.) Please send your suggestions. If we post yours, we will give credit. Please include your suggested answer (unless it is one that you don't yet have any answer for). We may change the wording of the questions and/or answers that are submitted.

UMass Transit has been very generous in posting our placards without charge. If you know of other bus systems that might be similarly cooperative, please let us know. (It would be most helpful if you have the name of someone for us to get in touch with.)

Any errors or obscurities or infelicitous phrasing in the questions or answers posted here can be blamed on physics professors John G. King (MIT) and Robert H. Romer (Amherst College).


We want to thank Five Colleges, Inc. and UMASS Transit for their willingness to display our questions on their buses and Amherst College for financial support and for use of this website. Thanks also to the University of Georgia Campus Transit System for support and display space.


The drawings for the bus placards are by Bruce Aller of Upton, Massachusetts:

( email to the artist: rballer@charter.net )