EPFL to host the International Physicists' Tournament 2019

The EPFL team: Ruslan Mushkaev, Ivan Rijkov, Nicholas Greensmith, Vincent Masson and Maxime Scheder © Alain Herzog / 2019 EPFL

The EPFL team: Ruslan Mushkaev, Ivan Rijkov, Nicholas Greensmith, Vincent Masson and Maxime Scheder © Alain Herzog / 2019 EPFL

Physics enthusiasts will descend on Switzerland for this year’s tournament, as the School defends the gold medal it won in 2018 – this time on its home turf.

Between 21 and 26 April, EPFL will both host and compete in the International Physicists’ Tournament (IPT) 2019. The event will bring together over 200 physics students from around the world – all representing their university and country.

“This will be a record-breaking year, with 19 teams from 16 different countries,” says Evgenii Glushkov, a PhD student in the laboratory of nanoscale biology (LBEN). Glushkov is also leading the 10-member student organizing committee, which is chaired by Jean-Philippe Ansermet, a physics professor at EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences.

The IPT isn’t just about the competition itself. Members of the public will be able to watch the presentations at every stage of the event, and there will be plenty of surprises in store – including live experiments and demonstrations, as well as easily digestible explanations.

Planning, pragmatism and creativity

Is it possible to estimate how far away a train is, and how fast it’s traveling, merely from the sound it makes as it approaches? Why does a thin metal wire acquire a rotational motion when placed on top of a Tesla coil? How can the structure of a samara – the helicopter-like fruit that grows on certain trees – inspire more efficient parachute design? The six-strong Swiss team, all students from EPFL, has been gearing up for the tournament for the past few months, working on questions like these – all physics problems inspired by everyday observable phenomena.

In what promises to be an intense week-long competition, the teams will have to present their solutions, compare their ideas against their opponents, and demonstrate the validity of their methods and models. The students will use all their pragmatism and creativity in order to impress the international jury of professional physicists – and wow the public. The best teams will make it through the qualifying stages and into the final on 26 April.

Participating is what counts

Competition aside, the IPT is a chance for students and professors to rub shoulders with fellow participants from around the world. “Once the qualifying stages are over, you often see teams discussing how physics is taught in their country,” says Glushkov. “Competing for the medals is only part of what the IPT is about. We all head home having learned something – and met lots of new people along the way.”

The final, which will be broadcast live, will take place at the Rolex Learning Center Forum on 26 April. Further information: http://2019.iptnet.info

Author: Julie Haffner

Source: EPFL