Kirill Visnap shares photos, documents from the IYPT 1996 in an interview with Nikita Shanin

Kirill Visnap comments on the 9th IYPT (1996) and shares documents, in an interview with Nikita Shanin.

K. V. owns Novgorod-based company ARDIO.ru and supplies tools and equipment for car diagnosis and auto repair.

N. S.: You took part at the IYPT 1996. May I ask you a few questions about the event?

K. V.: Thank you for your interest. Yes, for sure. The IYPT 1996 was held in Georgia, Kutaisi, but our accommodation was in a resort facility called Tsqaltubo and located nearby Kutaisi. The setting during the tournament was excellent. Furthermore, it was the first my trip to a foreign country, so enjoyed it a lot.

N. S.: Georgia was a scene of military operations just two years ahead of the 9th IYPT. Did you feel any of consequences?

K. V.: Well, yes. Actually, we did not see any military hardware in the city (Kutaisi). But at the place of the accommodation (Tsqaltubo), the teams were protected by military personnel, Russian soldiers if I remember correctly. Besides that, each time we went somewhere (daily trips to Kutaisi one tour to the Black Sea), we saw military hardware. But we did not face any emergencies.

N. S.: A source told us that personnel with assault rifles accompanied the teams.

K. V.: No, this is not correct. There were guys with assault rifles only at the resort facility where lived. However this is true that they guarded 24 h. It was not recommended to go out the facility (though it was not forbidden.)

N. S.: What were your general impressions about the situation?

K. V.: We were met very warmly anywhere, despite quite troubled financial situation in Georgia. One consequence of this situation was that we could pay anywhere (at markets, in any shops) with any foreign currency: Georgian lari, Russian rubles, US dollars etc.

N. S.: By 1996, the working language of the tournament was midway from Russian to English. Were the language regulations strict? Was possible to choose the language for the report?

K. V.: Actually, we prepared our reports in both Russian and English. Some fights were in Russian, if the jurors were mostly Russian-speaking and consented to a Russian-language fight.

N. S.: Could you then choose the language for a presentation, or this was decided by the jury?

K. V.: Teams and jurors were trying to arrive to a coordinated decision just before a fight. As far as I remember, during some fights a report was made in English, but further discussion in Russian. Also, a few foreign teams were displeased to have a number of fights in Russian.

N. S.: According to your impressions, what was the ratio between Russian-speaking and English-speaking teams?

K. V.: It is hard to say. The Russian teams were clearly the most fluent in Russian, the Georgians ranked second, the Poles possibly ranked third in their fluency. Others did not understand much Russian.

N.S.: Thank you for your input into the 9th IYPT. Did you preserve any materials related to the tournament?

K. V.: Yes, I surely have some photos, the program of the tournament, the regulations, the problems, and the results.

N. S.: Do you have any contact details of other members of your team?

K. V.: Unfortunately, no. They were older than me and we have not been interacting since then.

N. S.: Thank you.

K. V.: Nice to hear that it could be useful to you. Thank you for your interest.

Kirill Visnap.

Team of Russia-Veliky Novgorod (Gymnasium Evrika.)

Team of Russia-Veliky Novgorod (Gymnasium Evrika.)

Team of Russia-Veliky Novgorod, team leaders.

Entrance to Tskhaltubo resort, the accommodation facility for the participants.

Report by Alexei Popov (Russia-Novgorod) and the opposition by the team of Poland.

Team of Poland (right) and an unidentified team (left.)

Team of Czech Republic (left) and Russia-Moscow (right.)

Jurors at a Physics Fight.

Schedule of the 9th International Young Physicists’ Tournament.

Problems as scanned sheets: *.pdf file, 2 pages.

Problems as individual pages: [1] [2]

Regulations as scanned sheets: *.pdf file, 8 pages.

Regulations as individual pages: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8].

Results of the Physics Fights (not sure whether final or intermediate.)

Individual ranking of participants.

The interview was taken on March 18, 2012. The archived documents and images were shared on March 27, 2012.

Sergei Denisov shares names, documents from IYPTs 1993-1997

Sergei Denisov comments on the IYPTs 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997, and shares names, photographs and many authentic documents, including detailed results, regulations, diplomas, and manuscripts.

S. D. works at LESTER, an IT company based in Moscow.

Names. Here are the team members from SUNC MGU at a few IYPTs:

IYPT 1993, Protvino: Boris Rozentul (captain), Maxim Andreeev, Oleg Golubitsky, Sergei Denisov, Natalya Ratnikova, Sergei Varlamov (leader.)

IYPT 1994, Groningen: Sergei Denisov (captain), Maxim Andreeev, Oleg Golubitsky, Boris Rozentul, Alexey Tarasov, Sergei Varlamov (leader.)

IYPT 1996, Tskhaltubo: Maxim Sidorov (captain), Dmitry Levkov, Irina Rezvyakova, Olga Belovolova, Leonid Gusev, Sergei Denisov (leader), Maxim Andreeev (leader.)

IYPT 1997, Cheb: Anatoly Dymarsky (captain), Dmitry Melnikov, Semjon Kuzin, Petr Mikheev, Michail Zagoruyko, Sergei Denisov (leader), Maxim Andreeev (leader.)

Documents from the IYPT 1993.

Team diploma for SUNC MGU [pdf]

Documents from the IYPT 1994.

Regulations of the IYPT in Russian [txt]

Team diploma for SUNC MGU [pdf]

Personal diploma for Sergei Denisov [pdf]

Program [pdf]

Rules and Regulations [pdf]

Problems in Russian language, partially [pdf]

Probably an anthem (I am not familiar with the Dutch language) [pdf]

Team and individual ranking before the Semi-Finals [pdf]

Team and individual ranking after the Semi-Finals [pdf]

A photograph of the team in the Netherlands.

Documents from the IYPT 1996.

I have very little materials from this IYPT in Tskhaltubo, Georgia.

Regulations of the IYPT in English dated October 1994 [txt]

Team and individual ranking after the selective fights, i.e. before the Semi-Finals [pdf]

Individual ranking after the Finals [pdf]

Documents from the IYPT 1997.

Problems from the Russian YPT (that normally matched the respective IYPT problems [doc] [pdf]

Team and individual ranking before the Semi-Finals [pdf]

Team and individual ranking after the Semi-Finals [pdf]

Team and individual ranking after the Finals [pdf]

A photograph of the team on the way to Prague (in Warsaw, if I am not mistaken.)

Badge. And I just happened to find the following badge from an YPT.

The details and documents were shared between March 19 and April 24, 2012.

Roman Stepanyan comments on a few early IYPTs, clarifies details

Roman Stepanyan, Ukrainian team member and team leader at several IYPTs since 1993, comes back with substantial feedback about the early IYPTs, new details, and important corrections for the IYPT Archive.

Roman Stepanyan earned a PhD from the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen and is currently a researcher at DSM Ahead in Geleen, Netherlands, focusing on the rheology of complex fluids.

R. S. Accidentally I found your blog about IYPT. In a number of interviews, you ask about the members of the Ukrainian team in 1993. Unfortunately, the information provided by Yaroslav Chinski is somewhat incomplete. The
members were (not sure about the Latin spelling of the names, except my own.)

  • Dimitri Galayko (school 117, Odessa)
  • Alexander Nikitin (school 117, Odessa)
  • Alexander Morozov (Richelieu Lyceum, Odessa)
  • Yaroslav Chinski (Richelieu Lyceum, Odessa)
  • and myself: Roman Stepanyan (school 117, Odessa)

In your list, Dimitry Galayko is absent, which is the main reason I am writing this e-mail: he was one of the key players and certainly deserves to be mentioned. If necessary, you can contact him personally.

Some more details:

The problem reported by us in the final (Ukrainian team) was “Recharge” where we were given a charged capacitor and had to transfer its charge (as much as possible) to another capacitor. It was reported by Dimitry Galayko with Georgian team as opponent.

We were opponents of the Hungarian team. I was representing the opposition. The Georgian team was reporting “Domino”, opposed by Georgians. Our team was represented by A. Morozov.

There were actually three Ukrainian teams:

  • the official one (ours, based on School 117 team who won the All-Ukrainian YPT that year, trained by Sergey Kolos; see above for the names),
  • Odessa (Richelieu Lyceum) and
  • Lugansk.

So, some statements about the teams in your paper are not quite right.

During the Tournament in Fryazino (a kind of Post-Soviet tournament) the same year, our team had all the same members except A.Morozov. Dmitri Neselovskiy was “playing” together with us that time. We won that
tournament but I do not recall the details.

I. M. Many thanks again for your kind and so helpful input. If possible, can I please check with you the names of the Ukrainian team members and leaders at the IYPTs that you attended either as a leader or as a member?

R. S. I’ve put the info I remember below. [...] I also asked Vladimir Kulinskii about the names, etc.

1992 : Alexander Morozov, Igor Zozulya, Valentin Topelkin; this is all available data about the team.

> Leader Igor Altman, Zozulya was the captain.

1993 (with your recent correction) : Ukraine-National — Roman Stepanyan (captain), Alexander Morozov, Dimitri Galayko, Alexander Nikitin, Yaroslav Chinskiy, Sergey Kolos (leader.)

> There was also “Ukraine-Odessa” (led by Kulinskii, the same team as in 1994)

1994 : I don’t have any data on the Ukrainian team, but Vladimir Kulinskii was probably the leader or one of the two leaders.

> The names of the 1994th Ukrainian team (also present at 1993th YPT as Ukraine-Odessa) as I’ve got them from Kulinskii: Sergey Koleboshin, Vladimir Tolpekin, Igor Orlovich, Dimitri Popov,  Andrey Lugunov. Leader: Vladimir Kulinskii.

1997 : Kirill Belokurov, Igor Vorokhaev, Grigoriy Zavorothny, Denis Murakhovskiy, Elisaveta Ovdeenko as team members; no direct data on the team leaders.

> Pavel Viktor was the leader. Vorokhaev was the captain, I guess.

I. M. Thank you. I will make all these corrections at archive.iypt.org and in my preprints. If you do not have objections, I will also bring your commentaries into a short news release, so that we have a public primary source for these essential updates and corrections.

R. S. I do not have any objections. [...] Your archive looks really impressive!

UPD R. S. I found some diplomas from Fryazino, Protvino and Vienna. It’s a pity I don’t have our team’s diplomas from Fryazino and Protvino, only the personal ones.

The discussion and fact checking held between December 7 and December 15, 2011. Updated with documents, corrected on August 27, 2012.

Victor Isaev comments on IYPT 1997, shares documents, in an interview with Nikita Shanin

A collection of documents, diplomas, manuscripts, and newspaper cuttings related to the 10th IYPT (1997) has been preserved by Victor Isaev, Russian team member in 1997. In an interview with Nikita Shanin, he comments on the experiences at the IYPT 1997 and shares the archived materials.

Victor Isaev was born in 1980 and now resides in Alabama. “Little had such a strong impact on my life as had the participation at the Young Physicists’ Tournament in 1997″, he concluded in a LJ entry dated Dec. 3, 2011.

Download: 7. Vodianaja struja: handwritten solution for the problem No. 7 Water jet, 10th IYPT, in Russian [pdf]

Download: Turnir Junyh Fizikov, handwritten essay on the experiences at the 10th IYPT (1997), in Russian [pdf]

Download: Nadezhda rossijskoj nauki by T. Pahomova, Vechernij Ekaterinburg, Summer 1997, in Russian [png]

Download: Third prize diploma for the team of Russia, Ekaterinburg, at the 10th IYPT (1997) [pdf] [pdf]

Download: Certificate of participation for Victor Issaev, 10th IYPT (1997) [pdf]

Download: Personal diplomas for Victor Isaev at the national Russian YPT, 1997 [pdf] [pdf]

V. I.: Participation in the 10th IYPT was a really fantastic experience for me. I suppose the event had a strongest influence on my further life. Actually, physics is not my chief occupation now, but I am sure something has been changed after that trip. My memories about the tournament are full of warmth.

N. S.: May I ask you about some details of your participation in the IYPT that could be interesting for participants of the future tournaments.

V. I.: Yes, for sure.

N. S.: Were the rules strict for choosing the language for your report? Did jury assist in translating Russian into English? Do you remember reports or discussions in Russian?

V. I.: According to the rules you might make a report in Russian if all participants in the room were Russian speakers. In this case a Russian-speaking juror would translate for other jurors who did not speak Russian. Once I had such a situation. However, as I have had prepared my report in English, I preferred not to alter the language for my speech.

N. S.: For how long have you prepared to the tournament? Where the national YPT was held?

V. I.: We began to prepare in 3 months before the national tournament, during the winter. Besides that we had an extra month for the preparation to the international one.

N. S.: As far as I know you participated in the national YPT. Could you remember any different problems in the tournament that you did not face in the IYPT?

V. I.: Certainly not. The problems were absolutely similar. As far as I remember there were only 10 problems in the regional tournament due to lack of time for preparation but they were identical to the respective IYPT problems.

N. S.: Were you preparing any visual aids for your reports, like paper posters or transparencies?

V. I.: Sure, for each of my reports I’ve had lots of transparencies prepared with all necessary formulas and graphs. Truth to be told, there was a lot of complicated mathematics in my reports (specifically – for the “Water jet” and “Roget’s Spiral” problems), so there was no other way to properly present these solution but to provide lots of visual materials.

N. S.: According to your impressions, most reports at the national YPT were theoretical or there were many teams performing good experiments?

V. I.: It’s hard to talk in terms of “most reports”, but, definitely, most of really interesting reports were based on good experiments. We’ve been trying to provide good experimental base for all our problems.

N. S.: Could you recall the problems reported by finalists (Hungary, Czech Republic and the Republic of Belarus)?

V. I.: I am sorry, but I don’t remember.

N. S.: Could you clarify the name of your team leaders?

V. I.: I do not have any present contact details of the team leaders but Google may help:

  • Team leader and scientific adviser: Tatyana Georigievna Babmurova (new last name, Shtina);
  • Scientific adviser: Andrei Konstantinovich Zhuravlev (PhD)

N. S.: Did you preserve some interesting materials connected with the 10th IYPT that you could consign to the archive?

V. I.: I am sure I have something interesting for you. Definitely I have an item about team and certificates for our participation. Perhaps I preserved my solution of the problem “Roget’s Spiral”.

N. S.: Thank you for your effort. I hope materials you have consigned will be interesting for guests of the archive.

V. I.: Nice to hear that it could be useful to you. Thank you for your interest.

The interview was primarily taken in August and September 2011 with extra archived material collected in March 2012.

Ron Peerlings shares photos, docs from the 2nd IYPT (1989)

A collection of documents and color photographs from the 2nd IYPT has been preserved by Ron Peerlings, a Dutch team member in 1989.

Ron Peerlings is now an Associate Professor in the Materials Technology Institute, Eindhoven University of Technology.

R. P. Vincent told me about your effort. I’m sure I have photographs of the trip and tournament. I’m not so sure about documents etc.

I have fond memories of the trip to Moscow — it was a fantastic experience for an 18 year old!

Included are the program, problems, some pictures and two articles published in a regional newspaper (“De Limburger”) before and after the tournament respectively.

Should you have received any other photographs of the 1989 edition, I would be very interested — I couldn’t find any on the website?

I. M. If new materials appear, I will signal to you immediately. We would be equally indebted if you know other participants who might have preserved extra materials from that time period.

So far, I don’t have any other photos that were clearly made in 1989. There is a collection of photographs from co-organizer Evgeny Yunosov (who is seen as a chairperson at photo07.jpg.) You can find all his photos here. He has a section named “1989″, but there is solid evidence that those photos were actually taken in 1990. The Bulgarian participants shared the scans of badges and diplomas, and a Belarusian participant shared one single photo where little is seen.

R. P. I do not really recognise anyone in the photographs of Dr. Yusonov, which is consistent with your statement that they may be from another year.

I. M. Yes. At the same time, more than a half of those “1989″ pictures show the people recognized by participants of the 3rd IYPT. It looks like this series of pictures were all taken at one single IYPT, but the year was put incorrectly. (Dr. Yunosov himself could neither confirm nor deny this guess, as too much time passed by.)

Can I please ask you for the detailed references to the articles in “De Limburger”? The reason is that the publishers might have their internal index and know about the IYPT-related articles covering the following years (e.g. 1990, 1991.) I tried on several occasions to directly contact publishers of such “irrelevant” newspapers, and a few times it helped to reveal extra sources.

R. P. The two cuttings from “De Limburger” are more about our participation and trip and not so much about the tournament itself. There are no dates on them, but they must have been published in the weeks before (article01) and after (article02) the tournament. “De Limburger” is a regional newspaper and I would be very surprised if they would have written about the tournament on other occasions.

I. M. As for some materials in Russian language that you can find in the Archive, there are only one or two truly relevant papers. There is a single-page newsletter in the Soviet popular physics journal “Kvant”, and one more article giving the problems. Ironically, those problems were published in August 1988 and intended for the 2nd IYPT, but then were replaced (9 out of 17 problems.) An English copy that Hans Jordens has preserved, is matching the Kvant version and is incorrect. When we now have the authentic text, it will be possible to improve my previous “reconstruction” from Russian and Czech sources. Do you have any information when this replacement might have happened?

R. P. I wasn’t aware of the replacement of problems. In fact, as far as I can remember we only received the problems upon arrival in Moscow. I distinctly remember working on them long hours during the first days of the tournament.

[An update:] It seems that I was wrong when I said we received the problems only at the spot. My notes mention that we did some preparation at home, before leaving for Moscow. However, we received the invitation only on March 12th (12 days before leaving), so there wasn’t much time to prepare. And I don’t think it was clear to us which role these problems would play in the tournament — information on the format of the tournament was scarce at the time.

As to the program, it seems that some changes were made on the spot, particularly for the foreign teams. We took part in the first round on Monday, but apparently were pardoned for those on Tuesday and Thursday and were admitted directly to the finals (on Friday). We perceived this as a change of rules which was made partially because we had so little time to prepare, but this may have been a wrong impression…

I. M. Thank you for this detail. According to the Hungarian participants, the Dutch team received the problems “on the spot” also in 1990. When compared to the today’s practice, it is a very remarkable historical curiosity (most teams now start the work on the problems well ahead of the IYPT.) One more curious historical highlight with the Dutch teams was in 1992, when they brought a laptop with a transparent LCD panel and made full-scale multimedia presentations by putting the laptop onto the overhead projector.

R. P. I wrote some notes next to the photographs. I will read them again over the next days and let you know if anything useful comes up.

I. M. Is it true that eight teams took part in the finals on Friday? Did all of these eight teams make talks in a single room?

R. P. According to my notes, there were two parallel final sessions, with four teams each. The scores obtained in them were used to construct one final ranking. The other teams on our session were Bulgaria, School 710 and Hungary.

My notes state the final result of the tournament as follows:

1. Bulgaria (score: 31.6)
2. West Germany (31.5)
3. School 710 (USSR; 31.4)
4. Odessa (USSR; 31.3)
5. Netherlands (30.8)
6. Czechoslovakia (30.7)
7. Hungary (29.4)
8. Poland (29.1)

This does not seem to be in complete agreement with the factsheet on the archive webpage. However, I honestly can’t remember how I got hold of these scores, so your sources might well be more accurate.

I. M. There is qualitative agreement with the other sources (Bulgaria, West Germany and School 710 on the top; Finals held with all non-Soviet and two Soviet teams; eight teams in total at the “International Rounds”.) I easily imagine that there were many last-minute changes in the regulations, and that the entire IYPT was in its test phase.

As for the factsheet: that data is not from a single official document released by the organizers. It shows a reconstruction from various accounts and personal recollections. It is open for corrections, if necessary. (When I started the project, there was zero information available within the community about the first few years of the IYPT.)

Many thanks for keeping safe and sharing the ranking! Basically, we now have a direct record made by a first-hand participant at the actual stages of the IYPT. I believe such a record must be more reliable than anything else.

Many thanks for keeping safe and sharing the ranking! Basically, we now have a direct record made by a first-hand participant at the actual stages of the IYPT. I believe such a record must be more reliable than anything else. Can we please ask you to kindly scan your handwritten ranking? This will be a solid “primary source” on the results of the 2nd IYPT. We would be very glad to have it in the collection as an “artifact”, and to rely on it in the future.

R. P. I have attached a scan of my notes of the final ranking of the tournament.

I. M. Can I please also check one more detail with you : was Hans Jordens attending the event, or he just contributed to arranging your trip?

R. P. Hans Jordens did not join us to Moscow; in fact I think I have never met him. He invited our school to participate in the tournament because as a school we obtained the highest scores in the national physics olympiad. So the five (student) members of our team were from one school (Bisschoppelijk College Weert) and were the highest-ranked participants from that school. Two of our physics-teachers accompanied us and their spouses came along as well (at their own cost). You can see all Dutch persons present in photo08.jpg, from left to right: Patrick Veldhuis, Trees Raassens (partner of Willem Bouwman), Gertie Starmans (partner of Ad Molenaars), Wim van Geloven, Ad Molenaars (teacher), Jolanda van Deurzen, Vincent Verouden, Ron Peerlings, Willem Bouwman (teacher).

I. M. Many thanks for your efforts and this great input on the 2nd IYPT These are just incredible materials and recollections.

That IYPT 1989 was the first truly international and properly organized event, as in 1988 there were only two non-Soviet teams who came to Moscow (and it looks like the things were tested ad-hoc in 1988.) Quite surprisingly, the IYPT has evolved now into a very serious event (iypt.org.) Therefore, it is especially interesting and important for us to know the origins.

R. P. Good to hear that my scans are useful to you. I forgot to mention that the text written on the program is a loose translation of it. Hope this is of some use!

R. P. scanned and shared the documents between October 13 and October 30, 2011.

Martina Schäfer shares the proceedings book for the 11th IYPT (1998)

Martina Schäfer with a help from her mother, her brother, and co-editor Hendrik Hoeth, recovers the original pdf file for 11th IYPT: Remarks and selected reports (1998.) Coordinated distantly via Skype, this three-evening effort ended up with retrieving the file from a CD burnt under Linux 13 years ago.

Martina Schäfer earned a PhD in Earth Science and glaciology in 2007 from Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble (France), and is now a postdoctoral fellow at Arctic Centre, Rovaniemi (Finland.)

Download: 11th International Young Physicists’ Tournament. June 1–5, 1998. Donaueschingen, Germany. Remarks and selected reports (eds. Hendrik Hoeth, Martina Schäffer, Jan Theofel.) Stiftung für Bildung und Behindertenförderung (Stuttgart, 1998) [pdf]

May 18, 2011; 16h56-18h08 CET

I. M. [...] A year ago, I traced the printed book “11th IYPT: Remarks and selected reports” that you have co-edited, prepared and typeset in ca. 1998. Would it be kindly possible to ask you to share the original pdf of this book? The “Imprint” section says the book has been already available online at www.stiftung-sbb.de, but the file is no longer available. Thank you so much!

M. S. Funny to be asked about this book after such a long time! I think I still have some paper copies somewhere in a box on the attic :-) . What an effort to put already all this info together. How did you manage to scan the whole book of this/our IYPT book?

I. M. Hm, the scanning itself was a little painstaking effort, but much more tough and time-consuming was to (a) determine that the book existed as such, (b) find where to get a copy, and (c) to get this copy into the hands. [The copy was found at the] Württembergischen Landesbibliothek Stuttgart. [...]

We so badly missed the information about the early IYPTs, especially those held before 1998 as no websites existed, no publications were known, and no people could immediately suggest where to find a particular record or detail… Finding the accounts from the Soviet time was especially exciting, and now I will be slowly translating the key documents into English. :-)

M. S. Sure, I’ll search for the original files. I certainly have it somewhere, at least the tex-source files or a ps-file. But give me some time to dig it out (I have moved of course several times since then…) and manage to read the CD. Now when I think about it … it’s a long time ago that we did this: linux computers without any graphics, only terminals and then we had a ps file and some troubles to get a pdf out of it for printing … pdf was something “new” or “special” at that time :-) . Well, a lot of souvenirs :-) . Anyway, I’ll search and let you know.

If you have questions about the German participation/teams/tournaments, don’t hesitate to ask!

I. M. I will certainly not hesitate to contact you if I have questions about the 11th IYPT (but: given your outstanding work and efforts in 1998, most of the questions are simply answered in the book) :-) [From what I know, Rudolph Lehn] took part in an IYPT-related seminar in October 1994, and then brought a German team in 1995. However, the first West German participation was at the 2nd IYPT, when the West German (not DDR!) team ended up as gold winners in April 1989 :-)

May 18, 2011; 18h53 CET

M. S. The CD is located. It is at home in Germany at my parent’s place. But it’s formatted under linux, so they can’t read it (they have only windows). So I have first to get it here (or try to explain them how to read ext-filesystems under windows) and then I’ll be able to tell you, if the CD is still ok…

I. M. These are really great news!

May 20, 2011; 21h23-22h53 CET

M. S. Here are very good news: You can get a download link for the pdf [...].

Thanks to my mother for searching the CD, to my brother to copy/put online it for me with a live-linux cd under my skype-help and finally to Hendrik (the other author, which you had also contacted) for some linux help how to deal with this old CD! Anyway here it is! Hendrik had been searching but not found the CD, but he is happy now, too, to have the files again in his archives! With my brother we had nearly give up the CD as dammaged at least 3 or 4 times, but finally we were wrong and I’m happy about it :-) .

I. M. Many thanks to everybody in your family and to Hendrik! I am feeling really indebted for such rapid and motivated efforts! Thank you for arranging everything, involving so many people, and spending so much of your precious time!

[...] It would be such a huge disappointment if your long and dedicated efforts back in 1998 would be lost only because of a damaged CD :P !)

M. S. Yes, I’m happy also that we could recover all the sourcefiles, not only the pdf! It would have been a pity to know all that lost for ever.

How did it come that you have this email adress from me and not the one indicated in the book?

I. M. In such cases (when I look for people) I try to google for names, and it very often helps. For example, when I found the first-ever non-Soviet participants at the 1st IYPT (1988), it was a combination of attentive google search and coincidence. Although there was zero information about the teams or team members in 1988, I found a source giving the names of all participants in 1989. I was contacting different people, and the two Bulgarians happened to be on the team in both 1988 and 1989.

Just once or twice this method failed: I was contacting a Hungarian participant in 1989 and found someone with a same name, same age, a mathematician, and working at a university in Hungary. However, when this person replied, he occurred to be a different guy :-)

M. S. Sure, I’m doing that also when I try to find somebody. I was just surprised since my personal email is given in the book and it still works!

Btw, my mother told me (I had forgotten about this) that apparently my father was filming during that IYPT, probably during the finals. [...] Before I ask my father if he can dig out the film, I’d like to ask you if you are also interested in that kind of material or if you would like to limit you to the more “descriptive” data about teams, rankings, solution of the problems, etc?

I. M. Certainly, we are very interested in the video recordings!

(They give a look-and-feel of the competitions, that has changed quite significantly from those days! — I was a participant myself at the 14th IYPT when the teams still used printed transparencies etc.) We now have a video taken by the Ukrainian team in 1998 (avi 1, avi 2.)

The earliest (currently available) video is from 1996 (from a selective Ukrainian competition), and the earliest video from IYPT as such is from the 10th IYPT (avi 1, avi 2.)

Meantime, the French delegation reported in 1991 that there was the Soviet television filming at the 4th IYPT, and I am now (yet unsuccessfully) attempting to find a way to get this video from the Russian state archives for television and radio… :-)

[...] Overall, it would be such an amazing contribution if you succeed one day to digitize your video!

I have been receiving so much warm feedback for collecting not only “descriptive” details, but also the photos and videos, as they show everything: starting from people themselves, to the atmosphere and environment at a competition, how the stages looked like etc.. :-) Thank you so much again for this information! We would be so happy to have this recording!

M. S. On the CD was nothing beside the book, just some original documents that we used to extract info from (ranking of the teams or team members lists and that kind of things). And there is folder “unknown country”, so we seam to have had some documents that we could not connect to any team :-) .

I. M. Great details! I would frankly say that it would be so nice to include these additional documents to the IYPT Archive! (also: because it is quite probable that one day we can identify these “unknown” people! if everyone is identified at the 2nd IYPT hosted in the Soviet Union, then the 11th IYPT wouldn’t be much more difficult.)

M. S. I can send the stuff later to you, but I’m not quite sure if it’s really useful. Looks also a bit like fragments of solutions only and we had spent quite some detective work on it at the time of making the book.

I. M. If you have the ranking tables as scanned documents, they would also perfectly fit to the Archive, because this would be a “genuine”, authentic primary source :-)

M. S. No, it’s all some working-word documents, so no “historical” value, sorry.

May 21, 2011; before 17h34 CET

M. S. My father is quite busy currently [...]. Then I can ask him for the video :-) .

I have also paper pictures at home, I could search and scan them next time I’m home, probably at Christmas. But Alex [Urban] and Rudolf [Lehn] must have quite some pictures from this IYPT – they gave me at least paper copies of them afterwards. Naturally I don’t have many own pictures since I participated…

I should have pictures also from the IYPT in Vienna (the year after or before, I think after, Donaueschingen). Some of us Germans were there to assist in the organisation [...] I think I’ll never forget this Vienna IYPT [...]

I. M. Am I right that you were receiving the solutions by post? Did you start this work after the IYPT, or you have had planned everything in advance and were asking people for submissions just in Donaueschingen?

M. S. In my memory the idea came up during/at the end of the tournament and we collected everything as papercopy or on disks with a big effort in a big hurry when everybody was getting ready to leave. So it was not planed beforehand, more like a sudden “inspiration”. I don’t beleave that we got much afterwards by email or mail; but I may be wrong. I’m just sure that most of the material was collected on the spot and that no plan has existed in advance.

I. M. Do you remember, by chance, any announcement that Gunnar Tibell and Andrzej Nadolny were established as President and Secretary? If was just at the 11th IYPT when these two positions were formally introduced, and we were wondering if this happened after the event, or before the event?

M. S. Alexander Urban or Rudolf [Lehn] could know that; if it’s not written somewhere in the book (now you should be able to make search in the pdf) than I don’t know. The name Nadolny sounds familiar to me.

I. M. Could you recall any books or articles related to the IYPT that you saw, or wrote, or heard of? Any detail would help: either the name of the author, or the name of the journal etc. (slowly, but persistently, I will try to find everything :-)

M. S. I know only “my” book and some stuff from Rudolf Lehn. Nothing quite official, but the German-internal documents to make the tournament known. Somehow – at least at that time and for Germany – the competition was not very international, in the sens that every team/country lived it’s own thing and not a lot of contacts were established after the tournament. I remember having kept 2 email adresses for a while (don’t ask me for them now :-) ), but after writing once or twice it was over.

I. M. Thank you so much.

Interview with Akos Csilling and Andras Czirok on the 3rd IYPT (1990)

Akos Csilling and Andras Czirok, the Hungarian participants at the IYPT 1990, clarify further details of the event.

Akos Csilling earned a PhD in Particle Physics from Eotvos University in 2000. After working at University College London and at CERN, he is now Senior Systems Engineer at Creative Electronic Systems, Switzerland.

Andras Czirok earned a PhD in Biological Physics from Eotvos University in 2000. He is now Assistant Professor at University of Kansas Medical Center.

Download: Lajos Skrapits. Palyazati felhivas nemzetkozi fizikaversenyre. KoMaL, 12, 478-480 (1989).

I. M. There are some recently traced photographs from IYPT organizer Evgeny Yunosov. Can you suggest if anyone can be identified on the picture with the Hungarian team, taken presumably in 1990?

A. Cz. The gentleman in the left is Dr Skrapits, the young guy in the center is Akos Csilling, who worked in the CERN for a while but after that I lost contact with him. I do not recognize the guy at the right (that’s why I belive this was not my team :-)

I. M. There is a list of Hungarian participants, preserved by Peter Fedorcsak. Can you suggest if everything is correct, as for 1990?

A. Cz. Your list of participants is interesting… indeed it can be correct! Well that guy on the photo is certainly Akos, and I completely forgot Akos Domotor and Istvan Nemeth, so one of them could be the guy on the right. I am surprised that Peter Falus was not in our team, but that is after all, possible.

A. Cs. I found back my diploma of the event. It lists the participants of our team. Here’s the scanned document with the best possible resolution (pdf and tif.)

I. M. This diploma provides full evidence that the logo we now widely use as a scanned image, first appeared exactly in 1990. (The horses and knights looked differently in 1989 and earlier, while all the sources after 1990 had the drawing exactly as preserved on your diploma.) At a certain moment in mid-1990s someone scanned the image. What is now used at almost any IYPT-related event is a low-res scanned picture. We also now know who was the Jury Chair (a special LOC position) in 1990.

A little question: what does the huge letter “F” means? I saw similar letters, like “JU” on the other diplomas. Can it be a mark for the degree of the diploma? (gold, silver, bronze?)

A. Cs. I can also confirm that the F on the front of the diploma refers to the results. I’m sure the first team had T, the second JU, and I think the third also JU, and 4-6 got F, so that all together T-JU-F was covered.

I. M. There are quite conflicting accounts on the number of Soviet and International teams in 1990. Do you possibly recollect what teams were there, in 1990?

A. Cz. I remember very little about the participating teams. I certainly remember the Dutch team (I guess they won?), but very little else — I am sorry.

A. Cs. I am pretty sure there were six teams in total, two of them from the Soviet Union.

They were pretty well prepared, probably gone through a selection process of several levels of similar competitions.

Foreign teams had much less preparation, I was told the team from Holland received the problems on the spot.

I. M. A very important issue that I would prefer to double-check, is the number of the Soviet-based teams at the 3rd IYPT. There may be, I now suspect, serious chances that several participants, who believed they have been at the 3rd IYPT in June 1990, simply misinterpreted the event with similar Tournaments, such as with the 3rd all-Soviet YPT where a UK team was reportedly present.

A. Cs. I’m positively sure there were 2 Soviet teams.

I can imagine quite easily that people confuse events,  which may be quite similar. So this is a logical explanation. I also participated at many events around the same time, but for me, the ITYP was quite different from the others, so I do remember some details clearly.

I. M. Were there any articles or reports about the 3rd IYPT in Hungarian journals?

A. Cz. The problems were advertised in the hungarian monthly “KOMAL” of which I must have an archive somewhere in Hungary. I just checked that its electronic web archive is not (yet?) functional. So, within a year (huhh) I believe I may be able to dig up the problems and some photos.

A. Cs. The problems were published in Komal – a Hungarian magazine for students on maths and physics. I think they have the old issues available online – I’ll check. Students were asked to submit solutions, and these were used to select the team.

I also found a link to the scanned pages of Komal with the problems (No. 12, 1989, pages: 478, 479, 480.)

The introduction states that the competition was to be held in Kladno, Czechoslovakia, that the first team from Hungary participated in 1989, and that the problems were translated from Kvant 1989/8.

I. M. Were there any restrictions on the number of problems left for challenge at particular Physics Fights? Were there any unexpected problems, intended to be solved immediately?

A. Cs. All the problems discussed were published in advance. I do not remember any tie-breaker.

On the other hand, I think there were some introductory questions, at a visit to the (Lomonosov?) University, which were used to establish the initial role of the teams.

A set of 4 problems was allocated to each session, and I think the presenting team could choose which of the four to present. There were three teams in each parallel session, so one of the problems was not discussed, and there were a total of six teams.

I. M. Do you have any information on when the 3rd IYPT was re-scheduled and diverted from Kladno, Czechoslovakia?

A. Cs. I only had some very vague information that the competition was foreseen for Czechoslovakia, but already then I did not have any details.

I. M. What were your overall impressions of the event?

A. Cs. I still remember the event quite clearly. Besides the obvious interesting Physics, it was my only visit to the Soviet Union, my first management experience, and a great opportunity to practice languages. The problems were very different from what we usually did in Hungary: less claculations, more practical, and more open-ended. I only regret that we did not mix with the other teams.

I. M. Thank you for all the information.

A. Cz. It is very nice to think back to these times, and indeed that event was a lot of fun!

The interview with Andras Czirok was taken on November 19, 2009. The interview with Akos Csilling was taken between October 29 and November 9, 2010, with updates on March 17, 2011 and May 11, 2011.

UPD (July 12, 2012): A. Cz. I found your draft detailed report on the early iypt tournaments.

A minor correction: You give most names for the 1990 Hungarian team. You mention Mihaly Fazekas – this is not a competitor, but the name of a school, named after a writer who lived 200 years ago :)

I can tell you that there was one translator who spoke English and Russian, and each participant could choose to present in English or Russian, with simultaneous translation to the other language.

When we were against the two Russian-speaking teams, we bypassed the translator, and I was translating for our team. There was also a case when our team member could not speak well enough any of the two
official languages, so I had to translate.

I remember a case when I was presenting in one language, and switched to the other without noticing. It was quite confusing for everyone…

Interview with Grigory Kopelevich, Vasily Shabat, and Alexander Yablonskiy on 2nd IYPT; documents on 2nd, 5th IYPTs from Grigory Kopelevich

Grigory Kopelevich, Vasily Shabat, and Alexander Yablonskiy, members of the silver-winning Soviet team from Moscow School 710 at the 2nd IYPT, confirm several details of the event. Valuable original records of 2nd and 5th IYPTs are shared by Grigory Kopelevich.

Grigory Kopelevich is now the Moscow Office Head at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Vasily Shabat is now CEO of Tilbi, a Russian startup IT company. Alexander Yablonskiy is now a theoretical researcher in semiconductor nanosctructures at the General Physics Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

Download: official Decree, with attachments, On the results of the 2nd International and all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournament, 1989, No. 440, issued by USSR’s State Committee on Public Education on May 29, 1989, signed by First Deputy Head, USSR’s Minister V. D. Shadrikov (pdf, also as separate images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

Download: four-page English text of the problems for the 5th IYPT (1992), prepared by Russian organizing committee in 1992, and preserved by G. K. as a LOC activist (pdf, also as separate images: 1, 2, 3, 4.)

I. M. There are ongoing doubts about the problems for 1989. What published in Kvant in Summer 1988, differs seriously from the later problem sets, where 9 out of 17 problems are fully replaced. Can you possibly shed more light on the problems used at the final rounds in 1989?

G. K. I agree that in 1989, the Kvant problems were not the ultimate ones. What is published in Czech language looks correct – I reported personally problems on Clock and Rainbow, that are missing in Kvant.

V. Sh. I am affraid I did not preserve any of original records. What I remember are several problems that our team was solving (but I do not remember what was solved for the Finals, and what for the selective Moscow rounds.)

  1. Does the Noon match with the moment when the Sun is at a highest point above the Horizon, and if no, what is the time lag?
  2. What should be the properties of a board fence so that objects behind the fence are visible from a car driving nearby?
  3. How to measure the speed of a metro train in an arbitrary point between the stations Universitet and Prospekt Vernadskogo?
  4. How much information does a color map of the World contain?

A. Ya. I am still in contact with my teammates and competitors, e.g. with Alexander Dunaevsky, who now resides and works in Germany, so I should ask them if they have preserved anything. The only thing I can say for sure, is that I was solving this problem No. 313, Electron.

G. K. Possibly, some additional materials might have been kept at our School 710, but the team of physics teachers changed much since that time.

I. M. There is a source reporting that the second place, or silver, was awarded to an unidentified Soviet team. Do you possibly remember, if that was your team, or Odessa?

V. Sh. As far as I remember, it was us. Actually, we won the Soviet pre-selection (when competing to Moscow School 18 and MEPhI’s school 542) and then passed to the International Finals that were, by the way, far less tense and passionate than the Soviet finals.

G. K. As far as I remember, our Experimental Secondary School 710 of the USSR’s Academy of Pedagogical Sciences was awarded with some sort of a Cup, for the victory at the all-Soviet YPT. It is actually correct that our team was ranked second at the International part of the Tournament (while the 1st place was taken by Bulgaria, as I suspect.)

You possibly know that the most successful participants of YPT-1989 were allowed to join any science- or technology-oriented university in USSR (an institute or a university proper) without inscription examinations. There was a list of people who got this right.

I. M. If I am not mistaken, the International Finals in 1989 were hosted in Russian, but the West German team had special interpreters.

V. Sh. Everything was positively held in Russian only. I do not remember who, and in what way, provided interpretation.

I. M. Did you possibly preserve any original materials from the event?

G. K. The diploma was taken back by the head of YPT, Evgeny Nikolaevich Yunosov. It was necessary to issue an ID to be enrolled to Moscow State University without examinations, and I never saw it again.

I attach all YPT-related materials I found at my place. I just noticed in your blog that you have already seen the badge and the cover for the diplomas.

For an unknown reason, I have preserved the problems for the 5th International YPT – I remember that as a university student I was assisting Yunosov in arranging at least two YPTs, and possibly the 5th IYPT was among them.

I. M. Were these problems published in a booklet, or are just a separate handout?

G. K. Problems for the 5th IYPT, as they are in my copy, are printed from both sides on a single sheet of paper. I don’t have the book itself (I was participating then as an organizer or volunteer.) I recall also that I was promoting the problem on the Hopfield Model to be included into the set (but I am not the author of the problem as such.)

I will let you know if I find anything else. Thank you for an unexpected message and the interest in the YPT history.

I. M. Many thanks.

The interview and the exchange of materials were undergone on December 3-6, 2010.

Interview with Sergey Romanchuk and Dmitri Salov on 3rd IYPT, 4th IYPT, 4th all-Soviet YPT

Sergey Romanchuk and Dmitri Salov speak on results, highlights, and organization of 3rd IYPT, 4th IYPT, 4th all-Soviet YPT in Odessa, and on their experience in 1990-1991.

Sergey Romanchuk graduated ca. 1997 from Moscow State University. He is now deputy head of Treasury and head of FX&MM at Metallinvestbank, Moscow, and the President of ACI Russia, a financial markets association.

Dmitri Salov graduated in 1997 from Moscow State University. He is now deputy head of Investment and Brokerage at Metallinvestbank, Moscow.

Download: five-page Russian text of the problems for IYPT 1991, from a printed booklet prepared by the Soviet organizing committee in 1991, preserved by Sergey Romanchuk (pdf, also as separate images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

S. R. There are indeed many photographs and diplomas remaining from these Tournaments, including all-Soviet and International ones.

In 1990, our team with Eldar Sadykhov (Physico-Mathematical School 18, Eldar Sadykhov as team captain) participated in both all-Soviet Tournament (I guess, in Protvino) and in the International Tournament.

At the all-Soviet stages, PMS 18 ranked 2nd, while PMS 542 ranked 1st, and both could join the International competition because according to the regulations of those days, the USSR was represented with two teams. It was held in the Youth Center Olympiets near Moscow.

In 1991, there were also two teams from USSR, the ours (PMS 18-SUNC MGU), which ended 1st at the all-Soviet Tournament in Odessa, and the Combined team of USSR which included the strongest students from other teams.

I can give you contacts of two more participants of International YPT of 1991, Alexei Echkalo from Zaporozhye and Combined Soviet team and Dmitri Salov (PMS 18-SUNC MGU), who both work now at our bank. They can possibly offer you some additional materials.

I. M. Do you have information on any other Soviet participants at the IYPT 1990? There have been reliable information on a team from Riga, and also reports of a Soviet Combined team. Do you possibly remember what were the results of your team, and what team ended as a winner?

S. R. I do not remember anything about Riga.

The winner at the International Tournament of 1990 was Physico-Mathematical School 542, while we ended 3rd or 4th, I do not remember exactly. But I will have a look at the diplomas.

D. S. I can add that Sergey himself was the team captain of PMS 18 (SUNC MGU) at all Tournaments of 1991 (he did not mention that.) The International Tournament was also held in Olympiets. That year, besides our team and the Combined team, I certainly remember Poles (because we drank Porto together), Czechs (we had a Fight where I opposed them.)

All the rest is obscure, including our final results in the ranking table.

I positively have some photographs, and possibly lomography pictures from that Tournament and possibly more, as I need to look for it.

Yes, Sergei Dmitrievich Varlamov was our teamleader. Those years, the entire Tournament was maintained by the efforts of Evgeny Nikolaevich Yunosov and Varlamov. In fact, they were initiators of the game and, I think, they must have kept materials from that time, and they are, above all, the first-hand factual sources of information. From my point of view, Yunosov (and probably Varlamov) are the authors of the idea behind the Tournament. If you dig into the history of the Tournament, I advise to contact them directly. Sergei Nikolaevich Sergeev should also be able to help you, as he was also much involved into the Tournament (starting from maybe 1991.)

I. M. Participant Boris Baryshnikov, from the Soviet combined team in 1991,  commented “I have also an arbitrary amount of information in my head about the YPT problems, with no structured memories of when they have been discussed. These include estimation of brightnesses for illuminated and non-illuminated sides of the Moon, edges of clouds,  estimates for a best possible record in 100-meter-sprint, something on television scan technology, and “bonfire theories.”

D. S. These are all problems from 1991.

The “bonfire theory” is however already an anecdote. During the Finals of the Union-wide tournament, held in Odessa, we were provided with access to the library of Odessa University, a very beautiful building, by the way. In our team (Physico-Mathematical School 18) there was a Physics Figher, Ilya Romanov.

We achieved Finals and were provided with new problems and a couple of days to work on them, kind of impromptu work. Ilya got a problem, if I remember that correctly, about the dependence of flame height on width and height of firewoods placed into a bonfire.

So we, altogether as a team of PMS 18 (also very proud of ourselves), come to the library of Odessa University, a University that was deeply provincial for our taste. We were keeping in mind that only 150 years ago there were special people in Odessa who made money on carrying pedestrians between two sides of a street through otherwise impassable mud.

So we come at a Reading Room. Serega Sharakin orders a book on Navier-Stokes equations (he got a problem about a suspended plate with water, to estimate damping of oscillations etc.) I take a textbook on surface tension of water (I got a problem on evaporation of a condensate spot “breathed” on a cold glass.) I am not sure what Serega took, but in fact were all are so smart, as smart as Harry Pottter, and then Ilya in all his seriousness (because he had to work on the bonfire problem) asks the librarian: “Do you have anything on the “bonfire theory?” :-) ) It was just the time to hire a special person and carry us to the other side.

S. R. It was my problem about a plate! I reported it in the Finals as well. This can be seen on the photos from Odessa. Laughing out loud about the “bonfire theory”! I almost forgot about it.

I. M. Do you recognize someone on the photo from Belarusian participant Sergei Katsev, taken in Odessa at the 4th all-Soviet YPT?

S. R. I do not recognize anyone from our group, but I have also preserved some photos from Odessa, as well as the problems. In the Finals, the participants were SUNC MGU (1st place), Novgorod (with Boris Baryshnikov as captain) and Zaporozhye (Alexei Echkalo.)

[At the IYPT 1991], the second place was taken by Hungrary, however Wiki says they were at first place. I hope that Alexei kept his winner’s diploma, as he was in the combined USSR team.

D. S. I would like to recommend you to contact a priceless eyewitness of past times, Boris Baryshnikov, captain of combined USSR team in 1991. If I am not mistaken, he also took part in the Tounaments of 1990. I need to report with much regret that my archive of photographs is inferior to the Sergey’s and I simply do not remember other photos beyond those that Sergey has sent.

Sergey Romanchuk’s collection of photos and documents

4th all-Soviet YPT

Odessa, April 1991

4th IYPT

Olympiets, Moscow, June 1991

S. R. The event was held in Olympiets International Center, however the finals were at the Department of Physics, Moscow State University.

Officially, everyone of us represented a combined USSR team (see the document), but in reality there were two teams: SUNC MGU (Kolmogorov Physico-Mathematical School 18), which ended first at the all-Soviet YPT in Odessa in 1991, and the actual combined team, including the best boys from other teams,

The SUNC MGU team (with me as the captain) got the 3rd position in the finals (see the diploma), and the combined USSR team, the first. I do not remember, who ended second.

The SUNC MGU team:

  • Pavel Enin (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works in Moscow)
  • Dmitri Salov (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works at Metallinvestbank in Moscow)
  • Vladimir Onishchuk (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works in Moscow)
  • Ilya Romanov (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University)
  • Sergey Romanchuk (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works at Metallinvestbank in Moscow)
  • Sergey Sharakin (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University.)

The combined USSR team:

  • Boris Baryshnikov (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works at Microsoft in the US)
  • Dmitry Butrin (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works as head of economical politics section at Kommersant, a Russian business newspaper)
  • Alexey Echkalo (graduated from Physics Department, Moscow State University, works at Metallinvestbank in Moscow)
  • Alexander Osyka,
  • Irina Shcherbachenko..

S. R. Romanchuk at Moscow State University.

S. R. Team of SUNC MGU in the Central Physical Lecture Hall of Physics Department, Moscow State University: Varlamov (team leader), Salov, Onishchuk, Sharakin, Romanov, Enin.

S. R. Team of SUNC MGU near the entrance to Olympiets.

S. R. Participants of the YPT on the staircase of Physics Department, after the Finals.

S. R. Participants of the YPT on the staircase of Physics Department, after the Finals.

S. R. Romanchuk, Enin, French team captain, Sharakin.

I. M. I have forwarded the photo to the French team leader, Jeanne Stoliaroff, who wrote a detailed account on the event.

S. R. Nikolai Koblyakov (captain of the YPT team from Physico-Mathematical School 18 in 1989) with girls from the English team, on the staircase of the Physics Department.

S. R. I do not remember what is this team :) .

S. R. Teams from SUNC MGU and England near Olympiets before departing to attend the Finals: Romanchuk, Onishchuk, an English boy, an English girl, Koblyakov, Salov.

I. M. Many thanks for this very important information.

S. R. Thanks should go to you for such a painstaking work.

The interview was primarily taken on March 22, 2010. Further discussions and fact checking spanned between October 8 and October 29, 2010, with documents and photos traced and scanned by Sergey Romanchuk on October 12 and on October 14, 2010.

Wei Ji Ma shares slides, notes from the 6th IYPT (1993)

Wei Ji Ma (Whee Ky Ma), participant of the 6th IYPT (1993) in the Dutch team, scans and shares his notes and slides on the problems 2, 3, 4, and 5, on the physics behind the gravitational constant.

Download: Dutch-language report on problems 2-5 at 6th IYPT (scanned pdf.)

Download: English-language report on problems 2-5 at 6th IYPT (scanned pdf.)

Download: English-language slides for problems 2-5 at 6th IYPT (scanned pdf.)

Wei Ji Ma (Whee Ky Ma) was born and grew up in Groningen (the Netherlands) but has his family origins in Shandong (China.)

He earned his PhD degree in string theory at the University of Groningen, working mostly with his advisor Erik Verlinde at the University of Utrecht and Princeton University. From 2002 to 2004, he was a postdoc at the California Institute of Technology and, after that, a postdoc in computational neuroscience at the University of Rochester. He is currently an assistant professor in Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Wei Ji Ma is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of the Rural China Education Foundation. He has always been a science and education activist, having founded and coordinated the Complexity in Biology Club at Caltech or the Physics Promotion Team at Groningen. He has multiple interests from chess to politics, theater and classical music.

W. J. M. [In Summer 2009, I] visited my old home in the Netherlands again and was able to find my old notes and overhead projector slides about the Gravitation questions in the 1993 IYPT, as well as my (Dutch) notes for the national competition. Altogether, it is 50 pages or so.

Sorry, the slides and notes have been sitting in my office for more than a year now, and I have kept postponing the rather easy act of scanning them. In my mind it grew to be a bigger and bigger task, but when I came back from a trip and saw your emails, I decided I finally had to do it. And of course it only took me 15 minutes. So here they are. It was quite nostalgic to read back the things I wrote 17 years ago, when I was still very naive about science.

I have scanned the materials exactly as I found them; back in 1993, I had bundled together the answers to all the gravitation questions (I believe 2 to 5).

I hope the materials will be useful. I look forward to seeing the online IYPT Archive! Thanks for all the work you are putting into it. Let me know if I can help in any other way!

I. M. Many thanks for the scanned sheets. Such things do really make a difference in clarifying the IYPT history in all details!

Georg Hofferek, Executive Committee member, has just [commented on these reports], “I liked that problem when I first read it in the collection of old problems however, I think it is way, way, way to “large” for an IYPT problem, you could write entire books on the consequences of changing the gravitational constant… or almost any other constant, for that matter.”

[As a brief remark,] I have a plot showing the percentage of fully theoretical problems decaying with time, as at the early IYPTs there were much more theoretical problems than now.

W. J. M. Yes, it was a very big problem, but on the other hand I liked unconstrained theorizing a lot, probably more than doing experiments. No wonder I ended up in theoretical physics! In fact, my experience with the IYPT and in particular with the gravitation problem was a strong motivation for me to go into that field. However, the thought has occurred to me that devoting four problems to the decaying gravitational constant was perhaps a bit much, given that there was a lot of overlap and it reduced the diversity of the problem set overall. Nevertheless, I think it is amazing that it is possible to come up with interesting theoretical problems that high school students can say something about.

I. M. Many thanks for explaining your motivation in this problem. It is really amazing how the IYPT was helping participants to develop motivation and to continue with research, and it is always very nice to better know about such experiences.

In late 2008, Wei Ji Ma gave a detailed interview on his experience at the 6th IYPT, scanning and sharing many original documents from 1993. He found further slides and reports in Summer 2009, and scanned them on November 2, 2010.

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