History of Young Physicists' Tournament in Russia - The YPT Problems in 1980s

The YPT Problems in 1980s

As at today’s IYPTs, the problems never included completely defined conditions and were intentionally left open ended. Most problems would sound quite naturally for a today's IYPT and were covering mechanics, electricity, magnetism, optics, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, thermodynamics and other branches of physics.

However, certain problems of early YPTs considered not only pure physics, but many interdisciplinary subjects, such as astronomy, computer data processing, image recognition, physical chemistry and even computational biology.

In 1981, one of problems said: “Is it possible to write a copy of the A. Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo” novel with a single ball pen that costs 35 kopecks?" According to one of the researches, such a Soviet pen was able to draw a line of 1 km long. However, “The Count of Monte Cristo” included 1750000 letters, 64000 commas, 26000 dashes, 44000 full-stops and 5000 interrogative and exclamatory signs that required drawing 23 km in average handwriting.

A 1990 problem “Fractal?” asked to study the dependence of a wool balls’s mass on its diameter, when grandmother collects the thread into a ball.

Some engineering skills were sometimes required. A 1987 problem proposed to develop an Eternal Radio that would convert radio waves into sound without any power supply or batteries. The coefficient to evaluate the quality of the Radio, was proposed be given by x = P/Lm, where P was the acoustic pressure in 1 m from the device, L was the maximum of linear dimensions and m was the mass of the device.

The 1982 problem ‘Bus’ required to explain why vibrations in the back end of a bus were felt more clearly than near the driver’s seat. One of the teams has developed a vibrometer with connected tape recorder as a data storage device and measured the oscillations in different points of a usual public-transportation Soviet bus, then calculating average energy of oscillations, spectrum and spatial distribution of average amplitudes in different places in a bus.

Many problems of 1980s also required outdoor activities and applying physical principles to investigate phenomena that were hardly reproducible in a school lab or in a kitchen, like astrophysical phenomena.

Such problems required observation and measurement of all necessary parameters and dependencies without building an own setup to reproduce a phenomenon. Thus, these problems targeted to teach students to gain information from distant objects, such as space bodies, atmosphere or already existing anthropogenic or natural objects (buildings, urban infrastructure, mountains etc.)

Certain problems also required some background knowledge in languages or social sciences and asked to understand and explain sophisticated formulae or quotes of classical physicists.

Some problems also required a considerable sense of humor. For example, a 1983 problem asked to develop a method to transmit a written document to distances of 2 km using only 18th century means, and as fast as possible. The problem quoted "Rodney Stone” by Arthur Conan Doyle that described a method to transmit urgent and confidential information when attaching letters to cricket balls and hitting them. The “Rodney Stone” method allowed sending a letter in 50 miles (80 km) in 30 min.

Besides everything, there were problems almost identical to today’s IYPT problems. Problem No. 19 “Splash” of the Correspondence Round in 1983 was similar to problem No. 7 "Splash” at IYPT’2008. The problem No. 11 “String Telephone” of the Correspondence Round in 1987 was similar to the problem No. 11 “String Telephone” at IYPT' 2004. Problem No. 3 “Camera obscura” of the Correspondence Round in 1988 was similar to the problem No. 3 “Pinhole Camera” at IYPT’2008.

The major authors of these problems were Evgeny Yunosov, Tatyana Korneeva, Igor Yamisnsky, Sergei Varlamov, Vladimir Braginsky, Pavel Elyutin, Alexander Korotkov, A. Kusenko.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Young Physicists' Tournament In Russia

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