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Light Interferences – Optics in School

dsc_0239As it is usual in the USC Young Minds Section, spreading optics and photonics through the Spanish educational system is a must. Last grant submission we asked for money to make experiments in the faculty instead of going to the schools. Main advantage of the performance of our activity in the faculty is the ease to make the same experiments than in the schools plus additional ones that cannot be done outside a lab.

The grant requested was for making a duality particle wave experiment. The idea was to make or to build a Ripple tank to explain the behaviour of the waves through a double slit. Unfortunately the total budget requested for the performance of this activity was to high to be supported by the funding of the Student Section. A new point of view was needed to make an interference experiment, which was at the beginning our main idea.

The new proposal was to make holograms in collaboration with one of our University labs. This activity has been done two times during the first semester: first with high capability students (17 in total) and a second one with students from 5th grade (which corresponds with students between 10 and 11 years old, 60 students in total). In combination with the old activities that we usually perform (Fiber optics, Interaction matter-radiation, Polarization, Visual Optics) we perform a new one related with Holograms. Therefore students came to our faculty and made 5 experiments separately.
Previous to the performance of the activity we produce a number of holograms to show it to the students so the main part of the budget was used to buy photographic material to print the hologram. No more material was needed because a holographic experiment is done during the physics grade and therefore we made ours only paying for the spare items so the laser, and optical material was in the lab.

After the fabrication of the holograms we show students how to make it and their properties. By simply using a lamp we show the recovery of the holograms and their characteristics. With this new idea we can explain some features of the interferometric behaviour of optical pulses, which is in fact one of the main points of the optics that we have not implemented yet in our Spreading optics activity.

Physics workshop in festival “Playground”

4From July 8-10 the members of the University of Latvia Young Minds Section participated in a sports, music and creativity festival named “Playground”. The festival proved to be quite popular, garnering a turnout of a few thousand people. In the festival, our section operated a workshop in which attendants could take part in various physical demonstrations. The workshop attracted numerous people, young and old, most of whom had little day to day interaction with physics and science in general. Some were interested in the physical background of the experiments, while other were content with just witnessing the show.

Highlights of our demonstrations included:

  • potato cannons and a catapult which people could use to shoot at pre-made targets;
  • bottle rockets which could be launched in the air with pressure created by the release of CO2 from the reaction of baking soda with vinegar;
  • a mixture of corn starch and water, which changes its apparent viscosity depending on the way it is handled;
  • a demonstration with different color dyes that were placed inside glycerol, then slowly, carefully stirred until they seemed to have mixed. The dyes were then unmixed by stirring the liquid backwards;
  • an electronic 1 vs 1 reaction game set up on a breadboard and operated by Raspberry Pi;
  • the creation of dense mist by pouring water onto dry ice.

Students 4 Students 2016

20160406_171837One of the main goals of EPS Young Minds project is to connect young scientists among different physics fields, and therefore Prague section decided to organize students’ colloquiums named Physics Pizza Party: Students 4 students, where young scientists from our university presented their research activities. These events prove to be very successful in winter semester of academic year 2015/2016.

Totally, we organized four colloquiums this semester, with various themes: first colloquium was about more theoretical concept as a quantum entanglement, second about holograms, third colloquium give information about nuclear waste and storage methods of waste and the last colloquium presented modern methods of cancer treatment – cyberknife. All contributions were presented by Ph.D. and master students.

For most of invited speakers, it was their first experience to present their research activities in front of the the audience, which was not familiar with the topic. Despite of this fact, each talk was perfectly prepared, and therefore there was no problem to understand given topic. Each event was scheduled for about 60 minutes, but with discussion during and after presentation, average time of colloquiums was about 90 minutes and even more. According to the speakers it was very rewarding experience for them.

These events were advertised in form of posters, which were placed in school buildings. For the purpose of inviting as many participants as possible, we also advertised it on our social sites, namely Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to this advertisement, our students’ colloquiums were most visited. Average number of participants was around 20 students per one colloquium.

The Prague EPS Young Minds Section found these colloquiums rewarding, since this style of presentation “students for students” is still very rare in our country and we were one of the first, who organized this style of colloquiums. According to the feedback from our participants, we concluded, that our colloquiums were successful, since they were very positively rated by participants. Thanks to these positive feedback and high number of participants, we would like to continue with this activity.

7th Czechoslovak Science Students Conference and FNSPE Students

20160323_182313Prague EPS Young Minds section organized two large student meetings during the last few months. Both of them took place at Czech Technical University in Prague, first of them in April and the other one in May.
The first one was Start of the Semester Party. Well-organized advertisement of this event across Prague universities resulted in attendance of approximately 60 students. At the beginning, invited speaker gave the interesting talk about the gravitational waves, one of the newest and very important science discoveries. After a long and passionate discussion, all of the students attending the presentation were invited for the evening buffet, that lasted till the late-night hours. This event was generally rated as a good idea to connect students via interesting multidiscipline and actual presentation, and it is demanded to be organized in future.
Czechoslovak Science Students Conference is meeting of university students, when they have great opportunity to present their physical research and meet their colleagues. This conference is organized each year alternately in Slovakia and Czech Republic. This year, 60 students from these countries met at Czech Technical University in Prague. During the first day, students could attend several excursions in laboratories in Prague. At the evening, they were invited to a ceremonial dinner. After this dinner, we presented Young Minds project and our activities, then students could watch movie “Particle fever”, owned by our section. The second day of conference was dedicated for presentations in 6 sections, each supervised by its jury. At the end of the conference, students with the best presentations were granted a prize. Prague EPS Young Minds section collaborated with Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical engineering on organization of this conference. Particularly, we organized all of the activities during the first day of this international meeting. The second day, we arranged coffee breaks and helped with technical issues of the conference. Our contribution on organization of this event was highly appreciated.

Science Conspiracy Mythbusters 2016

20160519_175921In the last semester, the Mythbusters, organised by Prague EPS Young minds section, tackled one of the many conspiracy theories surrounding the LHC at CERN. Though the level of falsehood was astonishing, most of the statements presented are easily disproved and are based on complete lack of knowledge of the subject. This time, the Mythbusters have chosen less public, but partially more challenging target.

Gabor Fekete is notorious figure in the physics community. Many of those working in the field have received at least one email from this person – proclaiming most of the modern physics false and introducing new theory of particle mass. Fekete boldly challenges modern discoveries ( e.g. last two Nobel prizes awarded in physics – Higgs Boson and Neutrino oscillation), but as most of conspiracy theories he fails to deliver any evidence and his counter-theory is base of false usage of established theories.

True malice of this persona however does not come from annoying spamming of vast number of physicist, but from false and unlawful impersonation of various prominent figures. He has pretended to be for example Peter Higgs or various members of Nobel committee. Though probably everyone can see through this deceit, it only shows that his claims cannot stand on its own merit and Gabor Fekete has to lower himself to such methods.

The Mythbuster’s presentation focused mainly on debunking the “Fekete theory”, where we tried to accurately present his theory and point out inconsistent usage of physical formulas. Further we disproved the accusations made against modern physics, defending for example Higgs boson discovery, where Fekete claims only one Higgs was observed (which is preposterous only because it was observed separately on two experiments).

The presentation was accompanied by refreshments in form of sandwiches and cakes. The event was attended by approximately 20 people and was well received, followed by conversation between presenters and the audience. It was for example pointed out that people from CERN also tend to get messages from Gabor Fekete.

International Particle Physics Masterclasses 2016

12322889_1584481841872526_413222101859767822_oInternational Masterclasses is an annual event tratitionally held in February or March, which provides a unique opportunity for 15-19-year old students to discover particle physics. A total of approximately 10.000 high school students from 47 countries participate every year, effectively getting insight into topics and methods of basic research at the fundaments of matter and forces. Not only are they given a chance to get out of school without being prosecuted, but they also put their hands on an experiment themselves by performing measurements on real data from particle physics experiments at CERN. Almost 200 universities or research centres are involved in this project.
There are three participating institutes in the Czech Republic – the Institute of Physics at the Silesian University in Opava, the Institute of Particle and Nuclear Physics at the Charles University in Prague and the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering at the Czech Technical University (FNSPE CTU) in Prague.
This year’s International Particle Physics Masterclasses at the FNSPE CTU took place on March 18 2016 at the faculty’s headquarters. The Czech part of the project is being organised in cooperation with the International Paticle Physics Outreach Group, Prague EPS Young Minds section and CERN. The students are given an unique opportunity to become a particle physicist for one day without needing any special knowledge.
In the morning, the students went through a series of instructive lectures given by scientists who actively work at CERN, whereas in the afternoon, an actual data analysis from two LHC experiments – ATLAS and ALICE – was carried out. While analysing the experimental data from ATLAS, the students were given a chance to (re)discover the (divine) Higgs boson. The results were forwarded to CERN. The highlight of the day was a live videoconference with CERN physicist and with other teams from several universities abroad. At the very end, the best team was proclaimed. During the day, organizers prepared lunch, refreshments, beverages and coffe for participating students.

Higgs seminar with movie screening

13082559_1609000956087281_7430535798035548715_nThe public screening of the documentary film called Particle Fever, owned by Prague EPS Young Minds section, connected with the lecture explaining the theoretical background and historical development of the discovery of Higgs particle was held at two venues. Even if the budget was designed only for one event we decided to realize two screening to reach more people at the cost of limited refreshments at the second event. Because of absence of czech subtitles for the film, our team created them so that the film was available for whider audience. The event was promoted on the facebook, twitter, posters and dedicated web site (http://particlefever.youngminds.cz/) created by our section.

The first happening was on March 30, 2016 at Czech Technical University in Prague and the lecture was heded by the prof. Jiri Chyla, CSc. from the Institute of Physics of The Czech Academy of Sciences. The lecture called “Particle Fever” took about a hour. Before the lecture and before the film, a small refreshment containing water, coffee, tea and biscuits was provided. The approximate attendance was 35 people.

The second happening was on April 20, 2016 at Charles University in Prague and the lecture was heded by the doc. Mgr. Alexander Kupco, Ph.D. as well from Institute of Physics of The Czech Academy of Sciences. This event was conducted in tight partnership with the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists and was included in the official program. The approximate attendance was 30 people.

The feedback of the participants was very positive and we hope that this event explained one of the greatest discoveries in particle physics over the last decade to the wider public.

Survey about satisfaction of students and graduates in research

20160413_175333In general, people do not know much about lives of the scientists and researchers, their career and educational possibilities. One of the projects of Prague EPS Young Minds section is make a survey which would address graduates and current master and doctoral students mainly from our faculty about satisfaction with the quality of their former education, in the context of their research career, work experience, salary, travel possibilities, amount of their free time, quality of their personal life, plans for the future, etc.

Our survey helps to familiarize with the situation in the science and research in objective and professional manner. It will draw attention to strong and, what is more important, weak points of the student scientific life at our faculty.
The survey was created using Google forms and it is acessible here: http://goo.gl/forms/vo1FAJM5Wg. For now survey is available only in Czech, but in the future we will consider translation into English and provision of the survey to other Young Minds sections. Our survey was finished in March 2016 and subsequently sent to chosen respondents. For now, first results are available. Totally, the survey was filled in by 45 respondents, mainly by master and postgraduate students from our faculty. Majority of them study or finished their studies in physics, mathematics and information technology. In general, respondents are satisfied with their studies and career, although there is large group of students who are satisfied only partially with their studies. Main problems are small amount of free time, lack of money at faculty and some boring subject that do not correspondent to requirements of their research projects. But on the other hand, many respondents appreciate interesting lessons, professionalism and friendliness of teachers and possibility to do high-quality research at faculty or in cooperation with foreign universities and research institutions.

We have also found out that financial situation of master and doctoral students and researchers is average, but many of them would appreciate better financial reward because in comparison with private sector, financial situation of respondents there is highly above the average salary in the Czech Republic.

Gathered data were and are still being processed in more detailed way.
After that, results were presented and discussed. During the presentation, small beverages were offered to students. Attending students were highly interested in these survey, thus we plan to repeat this presentation at the beginning of the next semester. The results of our survey will be also published on Prague EPS Young Minds website and printed it on the posters located at several universities. Our aim is also present these results to management, departments and student union of the faculty. The survey will serve as a feedback and help improve the current status of various study programmes.

The survey and gathering data will continue in the next semester with possible enlargement of number of interesting additional questions. We would like to increase statistics of the results by addressing more respondents focusing more on graduates.

XVI Workshop and Award for young researchers in the field of statistical physics and condensed matter theory

lviv_workshop_sIn the end of January Lviv Young Minds Section received an EPS Activity Grant  for part of organization of the XVI Workshop and Award for young researchers in the field of statistical physics and condensed matter theory. This event was both with the Council of Young Scientists of ICMP and was held in Lviv at the Institute for Condensed Matter Physics on June 9–10, 2016.
The aim of the event is to promote the studies of young researchers in statistical physics and condensed matter theory as well as to establish connections among young scientists from different research centers of Ukraine.
This year participants of the workshop had a great opportunity to listen to invited lectures of five top experts in statistical physics and condensed matter theory from Ukrainian and Polish scientific institutions. 21 short communications of young researchers and 4 contributed talks of the Award applicants from various research centers in Kiev, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk and Lviv were presented during two days of the event. As a result 3 awards for best short communications and one Special Award for contributed talk found their owners according to the findings of the Competition Committee.
The full list of photos from the event is on the web-page of the Workshop http://www.icmp.lviv.ua/konkurs/gallery.html
Participants from other cities were highly interested in activities of Young Minds. We still keep in touch so hopefully some of them will apply to YM to create their YM Sections.

Soft Skills in Hard Science

IMG_0065In cooperation with the SFB 767 “Controlled Nanosystems” in Konstanz (Collaborative Research Centre) we organized a workshop on the topic of presentation skills, which took place at the 22. of February 2016. This workshop was held by Dr. Carsten Rohr who did his PhD in physics and speaks „the language of natural scientists“. His trainings and workshops are specifically developed for the field of natural science. After his PhD Carsten Rohr received further education and training and is a certified trainer by the IHK since 2015. He is currently employed at the TU Munich.
Further information about Dr. Carsten Rohr and his presentation skill training (and other trainings) can be found on his homepage: www.carstenrohr.de.
As a scientist the presentation of ones work is an important and common task. Results have to be presented in group seminars, on conferences, at the PhD defence or to address a public audience. The goal of this workshop was to help the participants to present their results in the best possible way, satisfy the expectations of the audience and have fun while doing so. The interactive concept of the workshop allowed the participants to directly apply the learned methods and processes onto their own presentations.
The topics of this 1-Day Workshop were:
– Planning the structure of a presentation
– Visualization
– Presentation techniques
– Handling of difficult situation
– … and a lot of practical exercises
The targeted audience for this workshop were PhD students in their first or second year and master students at the end of their thesis. The actual group of participants also included interested Postdocs. The workshop was held in English language because the participating PhD students came from different countries around the world (Spain, France, China, Germany, …).
The feedback we got for the workshop was very good so that we plan to organize another workshop by Dr. Rohr in the next year. A topic for the next workshop could be “How to write a scientific paper” or “Efficiency”.