POISK Centre has shared the honor of joining the research-oriented 6th Physicists’ Tournament for university students, held on November9—14, 2007 at the Kyiv National University (Ukraine). The competition has attracted 24 teams and was organized at a prominent level. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Departments of Physics and Radiophysics of the Kyiv National University and the Kharkiv National University were among the strongest teams.
After 5 days of reports and discussions in physics, the team of Saint Petersburg State University ended as one of the two gold winners of the Tournament.
Structure of the Tournament
According to the regulations, the Physicists’ Tournament is a creative team competition of university students targeted to realize their potential through solving complicated scientific problems and defending their research projects in a scientific discussion, called Physics Fight.
The look-and-feelof the competition has a lot of common with the IYPT. The problems are known in a long time before the competition, are fully original and are proposed by the Organizing Committee after open selection and discussion.
However, the teams are expected to provide researches at a significantly higher level than secondary school students do, and the jurors are expected to be much more critical about the consistence of methods, approaches and results.
The Organizing Committee achieves a great success in combining the competitive spirit of the selection procedure with a fascination of high-level scientific discussions among university students, academic community and university researches in various fields.
All participating teams take part in the Selective Fights. 9 or 12 best teams reach the Semi-Finals, and therefore 3 or 4 teams may reach the Finals.
The system of distribution teams among Stages and Groups, counting scores, points and ratings are explained in the Regulations in a very detailed way, and are likely to eliminate any complications or controversies.
Status of the jury chair (who is called Veduschy, meaning Administrator or Moderator) is outlined scrupulously. The Moderator doesn’t grade but watches for the timetable and actively intervenes if the discussion becomes unproductive, replicated or asymmetrical, or if the participants or jurors do not follow the regulations of the Tournament.
In recent years, more and more international teams join the Tournament. In 2006, the team of Netherlands (of Groningen and Utrecht Universities) has reached the finals and was awarded with silver.
The organization system of the Tournament allows finding a good solution to the language problem. Tasks are provided in English, Ukrainian and Russian.
Depending on the circumstances, participants and jurors balance between these three working languages.
“In 2006, when the Dutch team fought in the Finals, English was chosen as the working language. When using a language at a certain stage, we try to reach the best mutual comprehension for jurors and participants. It is a question of convenience and mutual respect that everyone may to discuss physics without handling with comprehension problems. We consider it positive to ask participants, regardless their language preferences, to prepare slides in English. It will help to avoid misunderstandings”, the Organizing Committee noted.
Problems presented in the Finals on November 13, 2007
The team of Saint Petersburg State University (Russia), being the first reporter in the Finals, has presented their study on the problem No. 2 “Willful Waves”: “It is well known that waves on the surface of small ponds propagate along the wind direction. Nevertheless in large ones waves always move to the shore; it doesn’t depend on the wind and shore orientation. What are the parameters of the pond that will cause regime changing?“
A detailed theory and a profound computer simulation were compared with experimental data from many unexpected sources and own measurements, and have allowed the reporter, Andrei Uskov, to conclude that the phenomenon is explained by the dispersion of gravitational waves in dependence of the depth in a given point.
The team of Kharkiv National University (Ukraine) has reported their solution to the problem No. 14 “Underwater cell phone”: «The skin-diver asked to send him the message, when he would be underwater. Determine, whether it is possible. Is it also possible to reach him, while calling?”
Mikhail Dalchenko, the reporter, has developed a theory that described the absorption and reflection of electromagnetic radiation.
The report of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russia) has covered a detailed theoretical study on the problem No. 1 “Goal”: “How the penalty kick should be performed to tear the gate net? How the result is changed in case of hockey?”
The report has included a nice demonstration with a pneumatic gun and stockings. According to MIPT’s sophisticated theory, if the geometrical form of a deformed gate net is approached by a smoothened truncated cone, it is possible to estimate the stresses and compare them with the limit values known from literature.
The team of the Physics Department of the Kyiv National University (Ukraine) has reported the problem “Dried milk”: “If the powdery soluble substance is put into glass and poured with boiling water, sound producing by spoon knocking at the glass will change during the time. Investigate the phenomenon.”
The observations of the reporters, Timofei Nikolayenko and Alexander Tomalak, have shown that the powder introduces into the solution a great number of little bubbles which cause a major sound absorption. The speed of sound in the mixture drastically falls, because the bubbles increase its elasticity. Their presentation included a fascinatingin-situexperiment.
Results of the Finals
The team of Saint Petersburg State University has earned 49.44 points in the Finals and according to the Regulations, has shared the gold medal with the team of MIPT, as the difference with their score (49.65) was less than 1 point.
The teams of the Physics Department of the Kyiv National University (48.17 points) and Kharkiv National University (46.08 points) have shared silver.
Preparation and selection of the Saint Petersburg team
The preparation of teams to the competition is not rapid and easy. In 2007, the POISK Centre launched a program of selecting and supervising the team and applied much effort to provide a continuous support in preparation.
The participants have muchco-worked, both distantly and at joint sessions. The active open cooperation and publicwarm-upseminars have played a certain role.
POISK Centre expresses its sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to the work on the problems, including Dr. Boris Borisov, Dr. Alexei Pirozersky, Andrei Selivanov, Alexander Kanivets, Pavel Ulyanov, Arseny Lunyov, Ilya Drachnyov, Vladislav Tsandrovsky.
The advices of Dr. Robert Kolalis were invaluable in preparation.
Opinions, congratulations to winners
“We deeply support the efforts of the organizers of the Physicists’ Tournament for university students, a great and a very positive event. Besides, we feel very happy for the victory of the POISK Centre’s Saint Petersburg team. It would be correct to hold more competitions of this type in Russia and actively involve more teams”, said Dr. Alexander Chirtsov, the dean of the Physics Department, Saint Petersburg State University
“We fully welcome POISK Centre’s activities and hope that they will expand and develop”, said Dr. Vladimir Mikushev, the vice-dean of the Physics Department, Saint Petersburg State University.
“The experience of this competition was astonishing. It was not easy to take care of the preparation at the various stages and finally bring together our research projects. However our victory and our interest in the research-based competitions show that such activities have a great future in motivating and educating youth”, said Ilya Martchenko, Saint Petersburg State University, the team captain.
“We are very happy to see Russian teams at our Tournament. Their participation indicates that the Tournament has became a fully open event”, said Dr. Igor Anisimov, the dean of the Radiophysics Department of the Kyiv National Univerisity,co-organizerof the competition.
“We hope that our cooperation with the Organizers of the Tournament for university students and with our partner organizations in various counties will strengthen and expand. This competition is a unique and very successful innovation and we are glad to be actively involved in it”, said Dr. Elena Lebedeva, the POISK Centre president.
The problems for 2008 and future plans
The POISK Centre and the organizers of the 7th Tournament cordially welcome everyone to propose curious physical phenomena that may become objects of the future research problems.
It is expected that after discussion and selection, the final version of the problems for 2008 will be announced by Spring 2008.
Participants of 2007