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Report on the XXX. international physics Olympiad 
from 18.-27 July 1999 in Padua 

The event 

Switzerland participated this year already for the fifth time with a crew of five central pupils in the international physics Olympiad. 

To this cause, which takes place each year in another university town, each country may send max. five users and user inside, who may not be written yet 20 years old and not yet at a university. 

This year 62 countries with altogether 296 candidates (of it 10 women) participated. Additionally two "Leader" travel per country -normally central school physics instructors- also, their functions v.a. exist to translate the English formulated functions for the pupils and to correct and to a given pattern evaluate afterwards the work provisionally. The final interconnection of the work takes place then later in a discussion with the jurors, which was placed in this case by different Italian universities and by the Italian physics teacher federation. The evaluation takes place for each user and each Teilnehmerin individually; there is no " land valuation ". All functions and evaluations are discussed and " approved beforehand " by internationally the board, a type general assembly " of " organizers and Leadern, in detail.  

The tasks

The check covers an ever five-hour experimental and theoretical section. The experimental section consisted this time of measurements of a torsionspendel, which additionally for the restoring moment of a rotated steel wire a torque caused by the force of gravity affected. This led to Nichtlinearitaeten and under certain conditions to a behavior (so-called " Bifurkation "), as it is own to complex systems. The measurements were -above all also because of the dominant high temperatures in the hall- quite delicately and required much intuitive feeling, in particular also, because global error estimations and computation of errors were required. 

In the theoretical section three problems had to be examined: The thermodynamics of radiant absorption in a gas, the magnetic field of a V-shaped of curved wire (this problem is based on a historical discussion around the results of Biot Savart and those from Ampère) and " Swing by " - the technique for the acceleration of space probes in the planet system by flyby at a planet (current cause the flyby of the probe Cassini " at " the earth is in August). Above all the functions were physically appropriate, required very good knowledge of the entire central school material (and some additional sections) and a certain routine and staying power, since several subtasks were to be processed in each case. 

The solutions are evaluated with max. 50 points (20 for the experiment, 3 x 10 for the theoretical functions) and honors are distributed according to the following pattern: Gold medal starting from 90 %, silver starting from 78 %, bronze starting from 65 % and " Honourable Mention " starting from 50 % of the achieved maximum score (means of the three best users). 

The participants

From Switzerland started David Brunner (Jona), Samuele Chiesa (Castel San Pietro), Gilles Duvoisin (Savigny), Patrick Lehner (Lausen) and Andreas's bird meadow (Beggingen). All five users achieved ranks with an honor; four received " a Honorable Mention ", while Samuele Chiesa won a bronze medal

These are no results of point, but one must also consider that such abilities are hardly promoted in Switzerland contrary to many other countries. Thus our users could themselves prepare an only even half day long, by being able to try the experiments out of the passed four physics Olympiads at the new canton school Aarau. The theoretical preparation was left to them and its teachers in the spare time. 

Also consists Swiss working group, which organizes the elimination rounds, of 10 teachers and teachers, who operate free of charge and without discharge of normal instruction. In other countries of several weeks to mehrmonatige " Trainigslager " are executed. For example Indonesia trains its five people during three months in Djakarta. 

Recruiting takes place with us almost exclusively via personal inquiries (so we could begin this year with only with 45 user inside and users from whole Switzerland, during e.g. in Italy country-wide in all High Schools with several thousand people are begun). 

So seen the results that our education system can lead in the width rightfully good results, show results of point however not regularly to expect are. I am convinced that with direct promotion and somewhat more means from or other " Honourable a Mention " would have become a bronze or even silver medal: With the correction of the work of our users it showed up that it was not because of the physical understanding, but that many errors were made, whom to routine lacking is to due and with more training be avoided had. 

The fact that Samuele Chiesa could receive its medal not personally, since he was given time off by the recruit school contrary to sportsmen only even ones for the actual checks, shows likewise clearly that intellectual maximum performances count little. 

I would like to still mention that Liechtenstein took part in bronze medal for the first time with a crew with two users and with Fabian Hassler at first attempt achieved. Liechtenstein followed the selective procedure of Switzerland and helps with Fritz Epple, physics teacher from Vaduz, during the preparation of the elimination rounds. 

The encounters

Of course our users did not only roll physical problems; the program, which the Italian supervisors apart from the actual competitions offered, was just as important: With different causes had both the pupils and pupil and " the Leader " opportunity to become acquainted with country and people and attach international contacts, among other things with city guidance, a Exkursion after Cortina d?Ampezzo in the dolomites, an inspection of the Istituto Nazinale di Fisica Nucleare in Legnaro and on the occasion of of different classical period -, skirt and jazz concerts. Additionally the warm summer evenings loaded to staying in one of the many Strassencafés of Padua; many used also the opportunity, which only 30 km removed Venice (despite heat and tourist quantity) an attendance abzustatten. All in all thus no week for resting, but as each time most interesting!  

XXXI. Physics Olympiad takes place in July 2000 in Leicester, England. We hope to be again with a good crew thereby. Perhaps do women for it leave themselves to inspire in the future also increase?  

P. Kaufmann, new cantonal school Aarau, dept.of physics 

1. Swiss team after the initialization celebration (from left to the right):
Samuele Chiesa, David Brunner, Patrick Lehner, Andreas bird meadow, Gilles Duvoisin, Elisa Carollo (more local " Guide " of the Swiss team) 

2. Swiss team with the honors after the conclusion celebration. In the back from left to the right: Andreas's bird meadow, Gilles Duvoisin, Patrick Lehner, David Brunner. In front: The two " Guides " Elisa Carollo and Sandra Foletti with bronze medal and diploma already again of the Samuele Chiesa engaged into RS.