The problem selection committee, with the collaboration of the IOC, selected the problems for the 13th edition of the International Physicists’ Tournament from your suggestions. To download the list, click the link at the bottom.
You have, from the onset of their release, to work on seventeen open physics problems and prepare for the competition held in one of the world's premier academic institution. The rules are simple : challenge a team on a specific physics problem, they present their results, you oppose them and a third team reviews the battle. This is simply scientific research at undergraduate level !
The Execom and LOC are closely watching the situation concerning the pandemic. Unfortunately, the tournament is not going to take place in April. Taking into account the worsening situation worldwide and especially in Europe, we are discussing possible options ahead
One time my teammate was testing a radio receiver she had built, while I was working with a tesla coil in the same lab. She was picking up a strange signal, with clear periods on several time-scales. We realised the receiver was picking up the noise of the tesla coil halfway across the room and was faithfully reproducing characteristic frequencies of the tesla circuit.
I think the lesson is: physical systems may couple in strange and surprising ways, which can both be a source of confusion and, with a bit of creativity, a source of new measurement techniques!
The best part of IPT is the people you meet. And when you talk about the problem you’ve worked on for a year, it’s really amazing.
I liked the opportunity to interact with future physicists from other countries, and the “physics fights” opened me up to more aspects of physics other than theories that I learn in class. Also, I’ve learned a lot about topics in physics that I won’t normally spend too much time in.
It’s a perfect way to exercise your creativity to solve problems and debate with peers. Plus, you get to know amazing people from all over the world.
I learned that there are many different ways to approach a problem, and by discussing them it’s possible to find a better solution to the problem.
Best part of IPT?
Interacting with colleagues, exchanging ideas and point of views for look into solutions to the same problem, taking into account aspects that were not previously considered.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, definitely. In my country we do not have such experiences like the IPT so having a first hand experience like this open your perspective about how to look physics research and how physics is in your everyday life.
I learned to communicate my findings to an audience, and also a lot of physics during the year, when solving the problems.
You are much more motivated to learn for the sake of solving a problem than passing an exam!
While working on the “Candle Lighting Trick” problem, we realized we had to maximize the production and “volatileness” of the smoke as well as canalizing it with a tube. So we made an hardcore candle-like thing using liquid paraffin as wax and a very thick wick; the whole thing was making flames about 20cm high and a hell lot of smoke after being blown. Using tube to canalize that smoke, we tried to relight it higher and higher, up to 1m! We had a lot of fun looking at the flame traveling through the tube burning the smoke. We can’t say the same for the safety staff.