Interview with Igor Nosov on 1st IYPT, 2nd IYPT, 3rd IYPT

>Igor Nosov has taken part at regional, all-Soviet and International Young Physicists’ Tournaments in 1988, 1989, and 1990. He shares rare documents and clarifies many details of the competitions.

Download: Evgeny Velikhov’s address to the participants of 1st IYPT, 1988 (scanned leaflet.)

Download: Igor Nosov’s personal diploma from 3rd all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournament, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Igor Nosov’s certificate No. 11-8 allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations, issued by USSR State Committee on National Education, signed by F. I. Peregudov on June 7, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Blank certificate allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations, issued by USSR State Committee on National Education, 1990 (scanned document.)

Download: Order No. 92 issued on March 21, 1990 by the Ministry of National Education of Turkmen SSR “On the results of the 1st Republican and final round of 3rd all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournaments in school year 1989/90 and on holding the 2nd Republican and 4th all-Soviet Tournaments in school year 1990/91″, signed by Minister M. A. Alieva (scanned pages: first, second, third,fourth.)

Igor Nosov was born in 1973 in Ashgabat, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. He was an active science and technology amateur in his school years and took part in many Union-wide conferences, becoming a member of all-Soviet Society of Inventors and Rationalisators in 1988. He worked on aerospace engineering projects when a university student and kept his interests until today. Between 2004 and 2008 he led a small company selling machine tools. Igor Nosov is now representative of Kress Tools in the Volga region of Russia and boasts being an professional pneumatic drill user.

I.N. You certainly know that the Tournaments in those years were organized with initiative from the Soviet Ministry of National Education and the Lomonosov Moscow State University. I can name several initiators of those Tournaments, Velikhov, Zatsepin, Yunosov; there was certainly someone from the Ministry of National Education, but I don’t remember the names on that level. I have preserved the copies of orders and prescriptions from the Ministry of Education concerning the YPTs.

The top teams were from Physico-Mathematical School at Moscow Physics Engineering Institute and Physico-Mathematical School 18, Moscow, if I am not mistaken. I represented teams of regional scale and during these three years had to deal even with organization problems.

The Tournament for me was a springboard. It is a unique event, very actual even today. It allowed me to develop an algorithm for behavior and analysis, and to well adapt to various life situations. Until today, I do not quit physics and continue my fundamental theoretical projects, even though I work in a completely different area.

These years, I took part in many scientific and technical youth events and I may say that the organizational level of all Tournaments was very high. The Tournaments were held in a modern and comfortable youth sport center in the village Ivakino (I don’t remember the name of the center.)

As far as I remember, there were teams from different countries. I personally contacted boys from Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. These boys were making reports in Russian, but there were also presentations in English, I clearly remember that.

I can clearly recall all successes and failures of my teams, as I was the captain throughout these three years.

The third team I had, in 1990, was the strongest one.

I.M. What teams did you represent?

Throughout these three years, we were the only team from Central Asia, I don’t know why. The information came from the Ministry of National Education, and was transferred to the Small Academy of Sciences. I was then a very known and active person in science and technology amateur projects (sorry for self promotion) at the USSR level; my name was familiar to responsibles at the Ministry, and it may have led to the decision they took. Another possible explanation is that there was no specialized physics and mathematics school in Ashgabat, and my school was the only with a focus in mathematics and physics (even though the name was just a secondary school.)

I am sending you all the documents that survived from the Tournaments. The problem sets and all other papers were thrown out by my wife as early as in 1992. I have a quality to always keep the information, and often look for something in my archive which weights 5 tons. My wife often refreshes it and I feel bad afterwards.

I.M. The name of the center was Olympiets. Did all teams live there throughout the Tournament?

I.N. Yes, only participants from Moscow possibly did not live there. The nightlife was sparkling with discos, videos and girls.

I.M. Can you try to complete the list of international participants in 1988-1990?

I.N. Unfortunately, I spent all Tournaments working on the problems and did not have time to make acquaintances. I never took part in the social life of the Tournaments, because I am more a lone person.

I.M. Did you preserve the team diplomas as well?

I.N. Our team leader confiscated the team diplomas. I am affraid they have not survived.


I.M. How did you first learn of the YPT and how your team was selected?

I.N. It all began when my supervisor at the Small Academy of Sciences of Turkmen SSR V.I. Karabash (a PhD specializing in solid state physics) announced at a lesson that a tournament in physics was planned in Moscow in 1988. That is why the first team all consisted from members of the physics section at Small Academy of Sciences, in Ashgabat.

I received a small brochure with problems for the Tournament. Five participants and one team leader were required.

Our supervisor knew personal capabilities of every participant, so he distributed the problems. It was reported to us, as always, “well in advance”, namely in two weeks before the Tournament.

Our main problem was to get airplane tickets to everyone, it was more difficult than to solve all Tournament problems. I needed to run around offices of several officials in several governmental departments, and we succeeded to get the tickets in the end.

In general, the idea and principles of the Tournament were an absolute novelty and were not known to anyone in the wide science community. That is why the authorities (I mean, republican) paid no attention to the composition of the team, to participants and to the team leader. It was important only to take part in the event.

Most our solutions were on posters, like as solutions by other teams. There was someone who made reports with transparencies, I can recall overhead projectors.

I.M. How the Inernational rounds in 1988 were organized? Was there a selection for the combined national Soviet team?

I.N. There was no Soviet national team, I don’t remember that. There were just teams from many Soviet schools, and foreign teams.

I.M. Can you suggest that the 1st IYPT had differences in organization in comparison to the 2nd IYPT and 3rd IYPT?

I.N. The 1st IYPT and the 2nd IYPT were the most pompous. There was even a diner at Hotel Ukraina in the end, if I remember correctly.

But my first debut in 1988 was not successful for me as my performances in further years. Everything was new to me, not like as at Olympiads. When I reported my solution, a juror told me that it was not correct to show calculated results with the precision of 4 or 5 digits after the decimal point, and my score was decreased due to that. Since then, even now, I never show results with the precision of more than one digit after the decimal point.

I am attaching an address by Evgeny Pavlovich Velikhov. It was a separate sheet of paper, in a nice cover, and was distributed to all participants of the competition. I personally contacted a lot with Evgeny Pavlovich. He was then very young, but already a member of Academy of Sciences, and personally signed diplomas.

I.M. Can you suggest if international teams took part in all Selective Fights with Soviet participants?

I.N. Check the list of problems for 1988. There seemingly was a problem on “Incandescent lamp” in 1988. That means, boys from Bulgaria were there in 1988, because I remember us and them at a Physics Fight discussing this problem.

I.M. That clearly means that all teams, all Soviet and all international, played in all Selective rounds together.

I.N. Ideologically, we played on an equal basis, together.


I.M. There have been concerns about the problems discussed at all-Soviet and international rounds in 1989. If I am not mistaken, some problems at the correspondence rounds differed from the final problem set.

I.N. In Moscow, we discussed exactly the same problem set we received in Ashgabat. But it was primarily important of how you solve something, not what exactly you solve.

We were sometimes supplied with additional problems, “as a snack”, to see who and how can solve them without preparation.

I.M. Can you recall any of problems you discussed in 1989?

I.N. I remember the problem “Mosquito”. I refused to solve it as I considered this problem a bad joke.

There was a problem about Karlsson. I personally solved it but saw that jury was not happy. They said, “the solution is too technical.” I solved the problem similarly to the helicopter theory, but there was strawberry jam instead of fuel.


I.M. Am I right that in 1990, the IYPT was held as a separate event from the all-Soviet YPT?

I.N. It was not held as such, at all. It was expected to be held outside USSR in May-June 1990. It was first planned to be held in Czechoslovakia, but there were political events there in 1990. Then, there were thoughts of London, but seemingly there was shortage of money. So finally, it was held in Moscow, in the same Olympiets Center.

I.M. What problems did you discuss at Tournaments in 1990?

I.N. Once, I opposed the problem on the cylinder in a tube reported by the Physico-Mathematical School 18 from Moscow. They made a mistake because they made calculations for a tube opened from one end, but it ought to be closed, according to the task, so all dependences would be completely different. I got 5+ for that.

But that was not in the combined team, we were in a Turkmen republican team during that Physics Fight.

There was a problem on the Franlklin’s wheel, a reverse sprinkler, and it was very tricky.

There was a problem on cubic planet, you must know it. I recently argued with an astrophysicist about this problem.

I.M. You were a member of a combined Soviet team at 3rd IYPT?

I.N. Yes, I was. But I hardly can remember anyone from the team. We saw each other only several times.

I went to the competition in Summer 1990. Out of Soviet teams, there was a combined team, a team from School 542 and School 18, if I remember correctly.

I.M. I can suggest that there were students from Riga in this combined Soviet team. Can you confirm that?

I.N. I cannot remember anyone from Riga. And why do you ask about Riga? I heard a lot about Odessa there. There was a very strong and very sociable boy from Odessa, but I don’t remember his name.

I.M. So students from Odessa took part in the combined team?

I.N. Students from various teams were in the combined group, but I cannot remember them, because there was no Tournament as such, I just saw them several times.

I.M. How the combined team was selected? Did you take part in the combined team in Summer 1990?

I.N. The physics fight with School 18 was when I was in a team from Turkmen republic, it has nothing common to the Soviet combined team. I was selected into the Soviet combined team in result of earlier achievements. And, yes, I went to join the combined team in Summer 1990.

I.M. I am very impressed of the document allowing admission to any Soviet university without examinations.

I.N. You know, when we got these certificates, we could no longer think of the Tournament.

The diploma was returned to me from the archives of the University. The diplomas I got in 1989 were exactly as this one from 1990. And one from 1988 was more beautiful. I did not see the team diplomas much and do not remember them because they were immediately confiscated.

The documents from the Ministry mention these personal diplomas as having different degrees. That seems strange to me because I have never seen any degrees on personal diplomas throughout the three years.

I.M. Thank you for your help and for scanning these fantastically rare documents.

I.N. If you succeeded in finding me, you will succed in finding the lists of participating teams. I remember only those I contacted personally and cannot be certain for entire list.

The interview was primarily taken between August 26 and September 2, 2009

Svetlana Mesyats shares YPT photos from early 1988


Svetlana Mesyats took part at the 10th Young Physicists’ Tournament and the 1st IYPT on behalf of Physico-Mathematical School 542, Moscow. She soon entered the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute and graduated with a degree in quantum electronics. Svetlana learned ancient languages in the Yu. A. Shichalin’s Greek and Latin cabinet, and started her PhD studies at the Instite of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, defending her thesis on “Aristotelian physics in neo-Platonism. Proclus, Stoicheioses physike” in 1999. She is now a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences, working in the sector of philosophical problems of the history of science. Svetlana collaborates with the Center for the study of ancient philosophy and classical tradition, Novosibirsk State University, and gives lectures at the State University of Humanities on the history of ancient philosophy, metaphysics and ontology.

S.M. I was very pleased to hear from you that the Young Physicists’ Tournament, in which I took part long ago, has grown into an international event and it’s history is of interest.

I indeed was a participant of the 1st International Tournament in 1988 representing the team of Scholl 542 and took part in the “summary session”, but I could not recall any specific details. I don’t even remember if there were any European teams at all. Teams from Soviet republics, e.g. from Estonia, were certainly there, but I cannot say anything concerning Bulgaria, Hungary or Poland.

Unfortunately, I cannot even say if we were officially announced winners and were awarded with a diploma. Seemingly, that it because too much time passed by, I left physics aside and now work in a different area.

What remained, are several photos from the Tournaments (from the meetings held in the Moscow State University) and a general feeling of success from a first independently made scientific work (in which I had to determine why the Sun looks flattened at sunset.)

I.M. Can you please scan these photos?

S.M. Four of them are made at the Department of Physics, Moscow State University, where the competitions were held. They show a Fight between our school and School 710 (it was from Chernogolovka, if I am not mistaken.) On the photos, you can find Yury Yufryakov, Anton Kuzmin, Alexander Fokin, Lena Gubankova, Filipp Alpatov, Alexander Cheburkin, Zhanna Pak, me, and many other persons whose names I already don’t remember, unfortunately.

There is a date on the back of these photos, January 20, 1988.

Photo 1: In the left, near the blackboard, stands Anton Kuzmin. To the right is the team from School 710.

Photo 2: In the first row is Alexander Fokin. In the second row are Yury Yufryakov, Svetlana Mesyats, and Elena Gubankova. I don’t remember who is in the third row. In the fourth row, a young man in glasses is Filipp Alpatov, and a smiling girl is Zhanna Pak.

Photo 3: Near the blackboard with a briefcase is Anton Kuzmin. Near him, with hands on the table, is Alexander Cheburkin. By the way, the resuts of the competitions are seen on the blackboard.

Photo 4: Boys from School 710, our competitors.

One more photo, taken on a railway station, shows our team during a visit of friendship to Tallinn. We are on this photo with the boys from the Tallinn YPT team. We became so close friends during the International Competition that they invited us to their town. In the far right is Vladimir Alminderov, next to him is the team leader of the Tallinn team (I don’t remember his name), then four boys from Tallinn, an then are we, Yury Yuryakov (looks out from behind), Alexander Rodionov, me, Lena Gubankova, and then stands another boy from Tallinn.

The photo is dated April 30, 1988.

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