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Each year, after a serious of highly challenging tests, a team of student Physicists is chosen to represent the UK in international physics competitions. Press Officer Thomas Hilditch spoke to his brother Edward, who has recently been selected to compete on behalf of the UK at the European Physics Olympiad, to find out more about this year’s Olympiad.

What is selection process for the Physics Olympiad?

There were three rounds of selection in total. Initially, I had to sit a three hour paper in November. From this, 100 people went on to sit the second paper, in March, again lasting three hours. The top 18 performers across these two rounds were then selected for a training and selection camp which took place during Easter. The camp concluded with a final exam from which the teams for international competitions were subsequently selected.

What did you get up to at the Easter camp?

Whilst the camp is usually held at Oxford University, this year we went online. This meant it was a bit more theory-heavy than I might be expected. Since the syllabus for international competitions contains a significant amount of first year undergraduate physics (such as special relativity), there were lectures and problem solving exercises to introduce us to these new topics. Nonetheless, there was also a practical component to the camp, which involved equipment one could find in a kitchen!

What will the competition this summer involve?

The European Physics Olympiad is an international competition in which multiple countries,(both from Europe and around the world, each send a team of roughly five Physicists to compete. More than 60 countries competed last year. The competition consists of both a practical and a theoretical component, with each participant sitting three theory problems and two experimental problems.

What advice do you have for aspiring Physicists?

There’s not really one set route into Physics, but I would suggest that anybody who is passionate about physics should get stuck into interesting physics problems and enter competitions like the Senior Physics Challenge to test their understanding.

Wishing Edward the best of luck this summer when he represents the UK!

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