Sergei Katsev speaks on 5th IYPT, 4th all-Soviet YPT, and shares original photos and printed documents

Sergei Katsev, now a researcher at the University of Minessota-Duluth, was a team member in gold co-winning Belarusian team at the 5th IYPT (1992) and an early Belarusian participant at the 4th all-Soviet YPT (1991). He corroborates  important information on the 5th IYPT, and unveils untraceable earlier documents and details, including the Russian problem set for 1992.

Sergei Katsev (b. 1975) graduated in 1998 from Belarusian State University and earned his PhD in 2002 from the University of Ottawa. He is now assistant professor at Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minessota-Duluth, focusing on sediment-water interfaces in natural and anthropogenic aquatic environments, and writing about his daily experiences in an LJ blog.

Download: two-page Russian text of the problems, without title, printed with a dot matrix printer, provided by Russian organizing committee in 1992 (pdf.)

Download: three-page brochure with the schedule of the 4th all-Soviet Young Physicists’ Tournament (Odessa, April 11-18, 1991), in Russian, photocopied from typewriter printed pages (pdf.)

I. M. Can you suggest if the problem set included into the 1992 paper by Leonid Markovich was indeed discussed during the 5th IYPT, or some problems were at a certain moment replaced? The tricky point is that problems are different among different sources (one version has a problem about lifting ping-pong ball instead of “Dam” (No. 3) and an additional 18th problem about “Superpreserves”; one version has 24 problems overall; and one more version replaces No. 6 “Matches” with a problem about height of a flame.)

S. K. I am pleased to hear that someone is still interested by those Physics Fights.

Seemingly, the problems are perfectly correct. There was certainly “Dam”, and no balls for ping-pong. Matches were there as well.

Concerning the 18th problem, to invite us for a Napoleon cognac, Markovich has never ended up with clearly formulating the issue :-)

I. M. Did you possibly preserve photos, leaflets or notes from 1992? What problem did you report in the Finals?

S. K. I certainly have something at my home. I can scan it for history :-)

Maxim Zaitsev and I reported “Fountain” at the Finals. The most work was performed by Maxim, and I only assisted him.

I dug into my archives and found the tasks in Russian. There are no pictures from the Tournament itself, but there is a picture of the entire team taken at the graduation party (from the Lyceum of Belarusian State University), including persons who worked on the problems, but could not go to the competition, because only 6 persons in a team were permitted.

Left to right are (with participants marked with *): Misha Khusid (*), Dima Chigrin (*), Sergei Lyapko, Leonid Markovich (team leader), Maxim Zaitsev (*, captain), Sergei Katsev (*), Alexander Klimovich (*), Dima Bogomolov, Maxim Chechetkin, Shura Bernstein (*).

The only one missing is Roma Loznikov, who constructed a train on magnetic suspension for the first problem.

I have also copies of a report for “Boiling”, schedule for the all-Soviet Tournament in Odessa in 1991, and a group photo from Odessa with three or four teams altogether.

Here is the Minsk team, several people from Odessa, and members of several more teams, but I do not already remember who is from where. I remember only the name, Irina, of a team leader from one of these two teams. Next to her is Leonid Markovich, our team leader.

It would be interesting to trace how many participants of the Tournaments of those days continued to work in physics. Out of six players in our team, three are directly connected to physics (besides me, Dima Chigrin and Max Zaitsev work at German universities), and one resides in Belarus (Klimovich.) Misha Khusid and Shurik Bernstein graduated from MIT, but Misha works now as an engineering manager, and Shurik decided to devote his life to travels worldwide.

I. M. Many thanks.

The interview was primarily taken on September 28-29, 2009 and on October 8, 2010.


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