Physics for the Coffee Table

About Physics for the Coffee Table

Richard wrote a book in the late 1980s called “Physics For the Coffee Table”  (PFTCT). The book (or series of books) consisted of many seemingly basic questions about day to day events that had counter-intuitive answers. The book was inspired by a remarkable physicist by the name of Professor Julius Sumner Miller who hosted a science show “Why is it So”. Professor Miller then wrote a series of wonderful books called “MillerGrams”.

“Physics for the Coffee Table” was Richard’s attempt to continue Miller’s passion of applying basic physics principles to explain common life events. Over three hundred questions were compiled and then tested on live clients of Coral’s computer business. The newsletter “Developers’ Weekly News” was faxed to hundreds of PC software developers every Friday night. A PFTCT quiz question was appended to the end of every newsletter. The first person who faxed the correct answer after 9:00 am on Monday morning received a prize. The competition became well known throughout the PC development industry and large software companies queued up to provide extraordinary prizes for each week’s competition. Giving out prizes in the 1980s that cost hundreds of dollars was fun, but the cost of postage rapidly escalated for the increasing sized prizes. Developers’ Weekly News stopped after about about four years but the questions remain. PFTCT was never published.

During sector delays, Richard occasionally poses a “PFTCT” question to passengers to distract them and pass the time – with a simple prize for the few winners.

The need for PFTCT has changed in today’s information rich world. Questions that people waited days for an answer in the late 1980s, can now be answered in seconds on the internet. But perhaps there might be some exceptions……

Background to the Physics for the Coffee Table Quiz

On 15 January 2012 the counter for this web site eclipsed 100,000. That’s a remarkable number and so Richard wants to provide a bit of fun after that event.

To Enter the Physics for the Coffee Table Quizes

Click on “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL” (at the top right of this page) to receive more details about the third question.


The winner may select a prize from the Category 1 Prizes.    Some questions will be specified as having prizes that may be selected from the Category 2 or Category 3 prizes.

(Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)

(Courtesy Richard de Crespigny)


  • Quiz # 6
  • Quiz  #5
  • Quiz # 4
  • Quiz # 3
  • Quiz # 2
  • Quiz # 1

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