IYPT Archive announced

Uncategorized — ilyamartch @ 2:02 pm

The IYPT Archive is a comprehensive collection of digitized sources unveiling the factual details and highlights in the history of International Young Physicists’ Tournaments and the Soviet-based YPTs.

The project is aimed at providing a coherent record of problems, results, and regulations for the early years of the competition. The digital repository will make the original accounts, in over ten languages, catalogued and readily available for future use.

Starting from an early personal collection, the Archive continued to grow through systematic research in 2007–2010. Preliminarily reported in a newsletter in March 2010, and accredited by the IYPT’s Executive Committee in November 2010, it is now being reviewed and completed up to a beta version.

The information site for the IYPT Archive will be up and running in 2011.

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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