University students are invited to take part in the International Physicists’ Tournament [IPT], one of the most interesting and entertaining competitions in physics among university students. The 6th edition of the tournament will be held at EPFL, Switzerland in early April 2014.
IPT is a student competition in physics where teams compete in solving challenging research problems. Problems are submitted and reviewed by a panel, and are made known to contestants well before the beginning of the tournament. Teams, of up to six students and up to two team-leaders research the problems for presentation during the tournament.
Every Physics Challenge in the tournament consists of three rounds. In each of the rounds one team presents the problem proposed by opposing team and two other teams oppose and review the presentation. After the presentation, members of the jury ask questions and score each of the teams. This format is well known and is used in some countries during the defence of a PhD. Any team may refuse a specified number Physics Challenges without penalty. This gives the participants the freedom to select and prepare the problems they like.
The IPT competition is a fascinating show. It strongly differs from the usual competitions as the problems are of the most complicated and challenging sort and every problem needs a profound investigation, both experimental and theoretical. At the IPT in 2013, teams brought and demonstrated their own experimental setups, e.g. the unipolar motor made from a usual battery and a magnet or a blowgun that could shoot a dart up to 100 meters. The participants in 2014 will be asked to determine the impact of flash photography in museums on medieval paintings, how much energy could be obtained from the city noises and solve another fifteen challenging tasks. There are theoretical tasks among them, for example one of them is inspired by the Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia and asks to estimate the mass needed by a meteor on entering the Earth’s atmosphere in order to break a glass window at the distance of one kilometre.
The tasks were carefully selected from more than 300 tasks proposed by the countries participating in IPT. Participants in 2013 came from China, Denmark, France, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, United-Kingdom, and Ukraine.
The problems for next year’s Tournament and the rules of the competition have already been published. For more details visit the IPT website.