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Alexey Petrov | WSU | USA

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Why advertisers should know physics

Some years ago, when I decided to start blogging, I wrote about an interesting advertisement that Ford Motor Company put up in all major magazines (it was even placed on the side of their headquarters in Dearborn, MI):

Here is what I said in that post of mine from several years ago: “What is interesting about this ad is the equations that this lady is writing — they look like the equations from the famous Peskin and Schroeder’s book on Quantum Field Theory (QFT), equations describing renormalization of phi^4 theory! How did Ford get a hold of them?

As it turns out, I happen know the answer. This ad was made by a company that is headquartered in Detroit — I have a business card of one of the authors of this ad!

What happened is that a couple of months ago I was sitting in my office at Wayne State University, looking over my QFT notes that I’m supposed to teach next Fall. A guy showed up at my door and asked to “write down a complicated-looking equation.” Now, that’s not a usual question that I get when I sit in my office during the lunchtime! He quickly explained that he works for this advertisement company (called JWT) and they were contracted by Ford to produce a series of ads that should highlight the talent of Ford engineers and at the same time appeal to young people. (He showed me a prototype of an ad with that girl sitting next to the blackboard.) So his boss sent him to the closest university (which happen to be WSU, we are located 5 min down Woodward Avenue from their office) to fish out a “complicated equation.” The rest is simple — I use Peskin and Schroeder as a main text for my graduate QFT  course, so that list of equations was indeed about renormalization of phi^4 theory… I must add that I received no monetary (or any other) compensation…

Amazing, isn’t it?”

The reason I re-post part of that old post is the following. I recently went to Florida to participate in CIPANP-2012 conference (I’ll post my impressions of this conference later this week). Now, Kennedy Space Center is on Cape Canaveral in Florida, so I rented a car and went to visit that marvelous place. The place is truly amazing! Lots of things to see. The place is still making history: I visited it just a couple of days after the historic launch of the Space X‘s Dragon capsule.

I also visited a gift shop and bought the following souvenir there:

 

 

See how many mistakes they got in there? And it’s not “rocket science”, it’s freshman physics! Quite embarrassing… Clearly, people from that JWT advertising agency in the example above take their job responsibilities much more seriously.

See that NASA seal in the upper left corner? Since I am sure that NASA scientists know physics, I take it as indication that they never visit their gift shop.

 

 

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3 Responses to “Why advertisers should know physics”

  1. Tom Chiverton says:

    I think the confusion is because the plate is a reduction of a much more sensible tshirt, also for sale there.

  2. Alexey says:

    The question is, confusion on who’s side?

  3. Parvaneh says:

    I guess the goal of the shop was to sell this plate – which they did.

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