physikanten & co // About us // History


How can anybody not be enthusiastic about physics? About the phenomena which influence the world and everything we do on a day-to-day basis? This question was posed by the artists and scientists Marcus Weber (at the time Marcus Hienz) and Jörg Gutschank. Both studied physics – Marcus finished his degree with the best grade in his year, while Jörg Gutschank worked on his PhD. And as it coincidentally turned out, both are jugglers and stage performers. While their performances were well attended, interest in physics seemed to be decreasing. The number of students studying decreased, with studies such as “Timms” and “Pisa” showing German students performing particularly poorly in science.
Marcus Weber and Jörg Gutschank decided to enthuse young people and adults about physics by combining art and science. As “Physikanten & Co.” they developed their first interactive physics show, dealing with phenomena in mechanics. With this concept they competed in August 2000 in the international competition “Physics on Stage”, where the goal was to make physics a more attractive subject in school and at university. And what a success! The Physikanten won the German qualification of the competition. In the European final in Geneva they even received a standing ovation.
After this, The Physikanten started performing in schools and universities, as well as for numerous companies and museums across Germany and Europe. The Deutsche Museum in Munich booked The Physikanten for a family day, while Vodafone, Toshiba and the Volkswagen town of Wolfsburg asked The Physikanten to entertain their colleagues and clients. In Warsaw and Budapest the show has been accompanied by translators. Austria and Switzerland likewise became regular customers for a long time.
The next step for The Physikanten quickly became clear: to develop new shows that deal with specific themes and are more suited to different audiences. With the necessary investment, a further two competitions were entered and won. At the end of 2002, the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs awarded The Physikanten the Start-Art Prize; an award for particularly innovative start-ups in the field of art and culture. Marcus Weber also won the PFAU competition for entrepreneurs at university. With this additional support, The Physikanten developed their second show: “Splash! The Interactive Water Show”. It is specifically aimed at public utility companies, as well as water and energy businesses.
With an increasing number of shows and performances, the company began to grow: behind the scenes a tribe of six permanent and freelance colleagues take care of marketing, public relations, show organization and the creation of experiments. On stage meanwhile, the team is complimented with two more physicists and two actors, while technicians off stage look after the shows. As it grew the company became managed solely by Marcus Weber, as Jörg Gutschank needed time to focus on his doctorate thesis.
Meanwhile the Physikanten developed not just a third show, “Fire and Sound – Physics for Dreaming”, but also a best-of programme containing the top Physikanten experiments. For the Einstein Year in 2005, more special experiments were developed. A laser beam was used to play the bass, and a strange muon died a thousand deaths on stage as it entered the atmosphere. The Physikanten then began their first regular televised appearances on ARD’s science programme “Kopfball”, as well as being guests on children’s television for the “Tigerenten Club”.
In 2006 The Physikanten brought a new, long-planned stage show to life; this time all about electricity. And in 2007, The Physikanten travelled overseas, performing their shows as guests in Japan and on AIDA cruises, among other things.

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