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Science: Posers for the pub crowd to ponder

"PUT A handful of ice cubes in a pint glass. Add water till the ice floats. Wait until the ice melts. Will the level of the water - (a) rise (b) fall (c) stay the same?"

Pub sages will soon be adding scientific principles to their repertoire following the distribution of more than 90,000 puzzling beermats as part of a Millennium Award project.

Fifteen popular questions have been drawn up and printed on the back of the mats. New questions are delivered each week to the participating pubs with the answers to the previous week's being posted up.

It is the brainchild of David Walker, Emeritus Professor of Photosynthesis at Sheffield University and Mic Rolph, a scientific illustrator. They also sought the help of regulars at their respective locals.

"We have already received some encouraging responses," said Professor Walker. "The locals at my pub think they are better informed than the rest of England anyway."

Answer: (c) Ice is less dense than water so it floats and part emerges. But its weight remains unchanged and so when it melts it fills the space did before.

The questions can be found at www.alegba.demon.co.uk/beermats.html