An industrially sponsored pub quiz: A scientific outreach event at John’s.

Clodomiro Cafolla, Postgraduate and International Resident Tutor

On Monday 25 November, John’s Bar very proudly hosted an industrially sponsored pub quiz for the members of the Durham Centre for Soft Matter (DSCM).  The DSCM brings together internationally recognised academics from the Departments of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Engineering aiming to provide a focal point for soft matter and polymer research at Durham University. The DSCM is closely associated with the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Soft Matter and Functional Interfaces SOFI at the Universities of Durham, Edinburgh and Leeds.

The pub quiz at John’s was organised by myself and generously supported by Thorlabs LTD and the North East Polymer Association. More than 40 people, including current and prospective students of the CDT and academics, attended the event. Questions ranged from science to politics and music- why don’t you try and answer a few of them? See the quiz below!

Participants enjoyed the warm hospitality of the College – big thanks to the Bar Team! The pub quiz helped DSCM members to strengthen their relationships, meet new people and establish working connections with colleagues from other departments.

The event was a great opportunity to foster the relationships between the College and the University, and to attract current and prospective students. The pub quiz has been also a unique way to promote the College among local and international companies and show what we are best at: creating an inclusive and friendly environment where every individual can express their own personality.

A huge thank you goes to Buki Dada, Customer Operations and Marketing Manager at THORLABS LTD, and to Professors Richard Thompson and Kislon Voïtchovsky for their support.


Science + Thorlabs

  1. Where does Thorlabs get its name from?
  2. Do photons have a gravitational force?
  3. In what year was the laser invented?
  4. What does LASER stand for?

General Knowledge + Politics

  1. Prime minister Boris Johnson was born in which city? Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is the face of the British government, as its leader. In which city was he born?
  2. On this day in 1992 which country voted to peacefully separate into two separate countries? Today in 1992 which country officially voted to dissolve as of the first of January 1st 1993?
  3. During the MPs expenses scandal, Jermany Corbyn only claimed £8.70, what was it for? During the MPs expenses scandal, Jeremy Corbyn had the lowest expenses claim of the House of Commons, what was it for?
  4. The US oil company, Esso was originally founded in Ohio in 1870. What does the name Esso stand for?
  5. Donald Trump is not the first American president to have a career in film, can you name the Christmas sequel in which he famously cameos?
  6. Salisbury Cathedral’s spire is famous enough to draw visitors from as far as Russia with its spire of 123m. To the nearest 10 m what height of Durham Cathedral? (Nearest 10m)
  7. Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, is a Durham native who once bounced at Klute nightclub, who played him in the Channel 4 film “Brexit: The Uncivil War”?
  8. Which Shakespearian play famously implies that there are wild lions in France? P.s. There are no lions in France…yet…
  9. As of next year 15 West African countries will adopt a single currency, similar to the Euro in the EU. What is the name for this new currency?
  10. Former Northern Ireland Secretary and MP for Redcar Mo Mowlam was an alumnus of which Durham College?
  11. The Caribbean liqueur Curacao is a product of which country?
  12. Which fictional characters lived at 62 West Wallaby Street, Wigan?
  13. The DeLorean car, made famous by the Back to the Future franchise, was built in which city?
  14. The Tamagotchi was one of the biggest toy fads of the 1990s. What does the name mean in Japanese?
  15. Oil is the most traded commodity in the world, but what is the second most traded commodity?
  16. Which multi-award-winning director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator was born in South Shields?
  17. How many chains are in furlong?
  18. During the Cold War, from 1945-1992, what was the closest eastern bloc country to the United States?
  19. What is the modern day record for circumnavigating the world by commercial flight to the nearest hour?
  20. The names of 74 French scientists are engraved on which Parisian landmark?


  1. James Naismith invented which sport?
  2. How many times did Red Rum win the grand national?
  3. What colour was the ball in the 1966 football world cup?
  4. What is the name of the Rugby Union World Cup?
  5. What is the only sport to have been played on the surface of the moon?
  6. What is BMX short for?
  7. How many balls are on a snooker table at the start of play?
  8. What colour is the inner most ring (not the centre!) on an archery target?
  9. Which of these three sports has never been part of the Olympics: solo synchronized swimming, the tandem bicycle sprint and underwater hockey?
  10. Which of these three sports has never been part of the Olympics: tug of war, squash and swimming obstacle race?


  1. Mary Westmacott was a pseudonym used to publish romance novels by which author famous for publishing books of a different genre?
  2. True or False? Ray Bradbury’s book, Fahrenheit 451, was originally named “Firemen”?
  3. In what decade did the publisher, Penguin Books, introduce their first paperbacks?
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carrol, was banned in which country due to the talking animals in the story?
  5. Many of the novels by Thomas Hardy are set in a fictionalised region of England named after which Anglo-Saxon kingdom?
  6. What type of whale was Moby Dick?
  7. Which of the following is not a genuine Shakespearean insult? (a) Away, you three-inch fool (B) Peace, ye fat guts (c) Come, come ye frowning caterpillar 
  8. Which novel of the 1940s features characters called Pinkeye, Minimus, Benjamin and Moses?
  9. Which nonsense poem features a made-up implement called a “Runcible Spoon”?
  10. Which poet wrote the line “Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”? Bonus point for the name of the poem!

Science and Thorlabs Answers

  1. The founder Alex Cable founded Thorlabs, named after his black lab, Thor, in a spare bedroom in Freehold, New Jersey
  2. Yes (GR)
  3. 1960 (Theodore H. Maiman put in action the first laser Malibu)
  4. Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation

General knowledge and politics

  1. New York
  2. Czechoslovakia – Czech Republic and Slovakia
  3. A printer cartridge
  4. Eastern States Standard Oil
  5. Home Alone 2
  6. 66m
  7. Benedict Cumberbatch
  8. As You Like It
  9. Eco
  10. Trevelyan
  11. The Netherlands
  12. Wallace and Gromit
  13. Belfast
  14. Egg watch
  15. Coffee
  16. Ridley Scott
  17. 10
  18. The Soviet Union
  19. B: 53 hours – modern day record
  20. The Eiffel Tower


  1. Basketball
  2. 4
  3. Golden
  4. Webb Ellis Cup
  5. Golf
  6. Bicycle motocross
  7. 22
  8. Yellow
  9. Underwater Hockey
  10. Squash

Literature Answers

  1. Agatha Christie
  2. True – The author changed the name after being told that the autoignition temperature of paper is 451 Fahrenheit.
  3. 1930s
  4. China
  5. Wessex
  6. Sperm Whale
  7. (c) Come come, ye frowning caterpillar
  8. Animal Farm
  9. The Owl and the Pussycat
  10. Alfred Lord Tennyson (In memoriam)

Photographs by Clodomiro Cafolla.

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