First day draft //
Preparation to the Young Physicists‘ Tournaments‘ 2012
1 2 3 Ilya Martchenko, Maciej Malinowski, and Michał Oszmaniec
1 2 3
Université de Fribourg and Lunds universitet; University of Oxford; Uniwersytet Warszawski
Call for cooperation
If you are interested in the idea behind the kit — to structure some earlier knowledge about
the physics behind the problems and to encou rag e students to contrast their personal
contribution from this knowledge — your cooperation is welcome
If more contributors join the work on the kit for 2012, or plan bringing together the kit for 2013,
good editions may be completed earlier
It would be of b enefit for everybody,
students and team leaders, who would have an early reference (providing a first impetus
to the work) and a strong warning that IYPT is all about appropriate, novel research, and
not about ―re-inventing the wheel‖
jurors, who would have a brief, informal supporting material, possibly making them more
skeptical and objective about the presentations
the audience outside the IYPT, who benefits from the structured references in e.g. physics
popularization activities and physics teaching
the IYPT, as a community and a center of competence, that generates vibrant, state-of-the-
art research problems, widely used in oth er activities and at other events
and also the author(s) of th e kit, who could rapidly acquire a competence for the future
activities and have a great learning experience
How to tackle the IYPT problems?
How to structure a report? Look through the historical solutions in the Archive :-)
What level is competitive?
How to set goals, decide on an opportunity for goal-oriented
the priorities, and set the critical learning
direction of the work? examples, not guidelines
How were people accessing those solutions are good, but yours
should be better! particular issues in the past?
Habits and customs
Originality and independence of your work is always considered as of a first priority
There is no ―correct answer‖ to any of the IYPT problems
Having a deep background knowledge about earlier work in a given field may certainly
be a plus
Taking ideas without citing will seemingly be a serious misconduct
Critically distinguishing between personal contribution and common knowledge is likely
to be appreciated
Reading more in a non-native language may be very helpful
Local libraries and institutions can always help in getting access to paid articles in
journals, books and databases
Is IYPT all about reinventing the wheel, or innovating, creating, discovering, and being
able to contrast own work with earlier knowledge and the achievements of others?
Is IYPT all about competing, or about developing professional personal standards?
The basic goal of this kit is not in providing students with a start-to-finish manual or in limiting their
creativity, but in encouraging them to
regard their work critically,
have a better background knowledge,
be skeptical in embedding their projects into the standards of professional research,
and, as of a first priority, be attentive in not ―re-inventing the wheel‖
An early exposure to the culture of scientific citations, and developing a responsible attitude toward
making own work truly novel and original, is assumed to be a helpful learning experience in
developing necessary standards and attitudes
Good examples are known when the kit has been used as a concise supporting material for jurors and
the external community; the benefits were in having the common knowledge structured and better
Even if linked from iypt.org, this file is not a official, binding release of the IYPT, and should under no
circumstances be considered as a collection of authoritative ―musts‖ or ―instructions‖ for whatever
Serious conclusions will be drawn, up to discontinuing the project in its current form, if systematic
misuse of the kit is detected, such as explicit failure of citing properly, replacing own research with a
compilation, or interpreting the kit itself as a binding ―user guide‖
All suggestions, feedback, and criticism about the kit are warmly appreciated :-)
These problems have no solution?
―But, my dear fellows,‖ said Feodor Simeonovich, having deciphered the handwriting. ―This is Ben Beczalel‘s problem! Didn‘t Cagliostro prove that it had no solution?‖
―We know that it has no solution, too,‖ said Junta. ―But we wish to learn how to solve it.‖
―How strangely you reason, Cristo… How can you look for a solution, where it does not exist? It‘s some sort of nonsense.‖
―Excuse me, Feodor, but it‘s you who are reasoning strangely. It‘s nonsense to look for a solution if it already exists. We are talking about how to deal with a problem that has no solution. This is a question of profound principle…‖
Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky
Quote from: Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky. Monday Begins on Saturday.
Translated from the Russian. (The Young Guard Publishing House, Moscow, 1966)
Requirements for a successful IYPT report
A novel research, not a surv ey or a compilation of known facts
A balance between experimental investigation and theoretical analysis
A comprehensible, logical and interesting presentation, not a detailed description of
A clear understanding of the validity of your experiments, and how exactly you analyzed
the obtained data
A clear understanding of what physical model is used, and why it is considered
A clear understanding of what your theory relies upon, and in what limits it may be
Comparison of your theory with your experiments
Clear conclusions and clear answers to the raised questions, especially those in the task
A clear understanding of what is your novel contribution, in comparison to previous
Solid knowledge of relevant physics
Proofread nice-looking slides
An unex pected trick, such as a demonstration in situ, will always be a plus
The jury would like to understand…
What did you actually do?
Why did you do it?
How well did you do it?
Were you able to voice important questions and provide grounded
What was your major contribution to the understanding of the
Can you judge the achievements and limits of your work in an objective,
skeptical and self-confident manner?
Are you proficient in relevant physics concepts?
Were you a self starter?
Could you be left unsupervised?
Problem No. 1 ―Gaussi an cannon‖ A sequence of identical steel balls includes a strong magnet and lies in a nonmagnetic channel. Another steel ball is rolled towards them and collides with the end ba ll. The ball at the opposite end of the sequence is ejected at a surprisingly high velocity. Optimize the magnet's position for the greatest effect.