A top five finish in the BPhO Computational Challenge led to a visit to the Royal Society for the British Physics Olympiad Awards

The British Physics Olympiad Awards at the Royal Society

2nd May 2024

Towards the end of April, Zachary Yen and Yuyao Xie travelled to the Royal Society in London for the annual British Physics Olympiad Awards.

Zach and Yuyao's team entry gained a top-five place in the Computational Physics Challenge for their project on solar system orbits. They also received a book prize from the publishers, World Scientific.

After an opportunity for Zach and Yuyao to meet the 2023 and 2024 International Physics and Astronomical Olympiad teams, which represented an elite group of ten students from the 50,000 participants in annual BPhO competitions, attendees enjoyed an inspirational lecture on soft condensed matter physics from Michael Cates, who currently holds the prestigious position as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Professor Cates is the nineteenth holder of this office, with Stephen Hawking and Isaac Newton being previous holders, as well as OW James Lighthill (Coll. 1937), who preceded Hawking from 1969 until 1979.

The tangible historical link between the Royal Society and the founders of modern science did not fail to be awe inspiring, but the BPhO event is all about celebrating the young scientists who will hopefully shape our future. Professor Cates' lecture, which involved a practical demonstration of a thousand-fold change in viscosity of a cornstarch and water mixture called Ooblick as mixing force is increased, was full of cutting edge research with applications involving building materials, foams, emulsions, waste disposal, liquid crystals, battery manufacture and even how to conch chocolate efficiently.

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