Zurich | July 11–17 |

IPhO 2016

Young top talents competed at Olympic level!

The 47th International Physics Olympiad has taken place from July 11 to 17, 2016 in Zurich.

We were happy to welcome

  • 86 delegations

  • 400 secondary school students

  • 250 leaders and observers

  • 200 volunteers

All secondary school students (younger than 20) that are not yet enrolled at a university or a similar educational institute can participate in their National Physics Olympiads. The five best participants qualify for the International Physics Olympiad.

Each delegation consists of up to five students, who will be accompanied by two leaders which usually are scientists, teachers / professors, or members of the national ministry of education.

Every year, another IPhO member organizes the International Physics Olympiad. All in all, a total of about 900 people will be involved in the IPhO 2016, counting all participants, leaders, observers, volunteers, organizers, staff and the like.

Why are Physicists so important?

Physicists are highly educated, scientific all-rounders whose high affinity for practical applications and in-depth understanding of mathematics and computing makes them exceptionally versatile. The areas in which physicists play an essential role include the development of innovative nanomaterials for industrial and medical applications, robotics, human-machine interfaces, and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in the medical field.

Consequently, physicists are now highly sought after throughout industry (e.g. in the energy sector, industrial engineering, pharmaceuticals), business (e.g. big data computing and risk scenario simulations at banks, insurance companies and planning departments) and public administration (e.g. project management). Physics is also increasingly penetrating virtually all areas of science and technology.

Lack of qualified new talent

In recent years, the lack of qualified new talent in the disciplines of mathematics, information sciences, natural sciences, and technology (MINT) has been a hot topic in the economic, political and scientific arena, since it will have a direct impact on the innovative power of industry and business. In order to function, our society is highly reliant on experts in the MINT disciplines. However, too few young people are studying these subjects.

To counter this lack of expertise, the MINT professions need to find a way to access children and young people at an early stage, since there is evidence that decisions regarding future studies are already made at secondary school.

The Science Olympiads take place during this crucial decision-making phase. They aim to motivate and encourage young talent, thereby contributing to the sustained development of our society.

An unforgettable experience

The IPhO embodies a unique spirit of engagement, passion for science and open-mindedness, as clearly demonstrated by the number of volunteers involved. Participants are able to network and communicate with people beyond language and cultural borders.

For the young people involved, the Olympiads are one-off, unforgettable and exciting international events to promote new talent. A high value is placed on mutual understanding and respect, as well as on enthusiastic cooperation.

The IPhO 2016 Logo

The Black Hole - A mystery to be solved in the future!

The IPhO 2016 Logo illustrates an active galactic nuclei. The most energetic objects known in our universe and yet their existence remains a mystery.

These powerful sources of energy consist of a super massive and extremely dense object which can exceed a billion times the mass of our Sun. The enormous gravitational attraction makes even light not escape from the innermost part - the super massive black hole.

When gas is spinning inwards into the black hole, there is an enormous amount of gravitational energy released. The gas accelerates to very high velocities and heats up and releases an enormous amount of energy in the form of light. This process can outshine an entire galaxy consisting of several billions of stars.

Only with Einstein’s theory of General Relativity and his calculations, such objects became even thinkable. Albert Einstein obtained his PhD by the University of Zurich, the host university of the IPhO 2016.

The formation and evolution of the super massive black holes remains a mystery to date. It is very unclear how the surrounding galaxy acts on the central black hole and vis versa. Who knows what insights are waiting for us - to be discovered by the next generation of physicists?