PLANCKS Competition 2020

Each year, hundreds of Physics students across the world come together to compete in the international finals of the PLANCKS competition. This year, the Institute of Physics will host the competition at their headquarters in King’s Cross, from 8-11 May 2020.

Guest post from PLANCKS OC

Opening symposium at the 2014 PLANCKS competition with special guest, Professor Stephen Hawking.

PLANCKS is an annual international physics competition organised by the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS) and hosted in a different country each year. Representing their respective countries, teams of 3-4 bachelor’s and master’s students answer tough written physics questions, competing for a €1000 prize.

PLANCKS was first held in May 2014 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. It was organised by Studenten Physica in Nederland (SPIN), the Dutch umbrella association for physics study associations, with the help of the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS).

Today, the competition encompasses dozens of countries, with many hosting hotly contested qualifiers to select the best university scientists to take part. This year, 75 teams applied for just the UK preliminaries! Three times the nearest most competitive nation (Germany).

2019 PLANCKS Teams

PLANCKS has grown to encompass a three day symposium celebrating research excellence and international cooperation in STEM. Delegates hear talks from leading physicists, attend exciting science excursions and explore the host nation’s research facilities. Previous speakers have included Nobel Prize winners Prof. Stephen Hawking in 2014 and Prof. Wolfgang Ketterle in 2018.

Nobel Prize winner Kietterle blows something up in Odense, 2019

Problems are written by professors and cover different fields of physics. For example, questions about cradles, glaciers, particle physics, slinkies, graphene, beamsplitters, skyrmions, wind drift of icebergs, laser cooling, and oil and gas production have arisen in the previous editions, with even more areas of study being added to this year’s competition.

There is a strong focus on developing networks and promoting international cooperation. PLANCKS brings physics students from all over the world, as far as Singapore, India, North America and Africa together in a setting of cultural exchange to challenge and connect physicists in equal measure, developing skills and relationships that continue into their careers. It is a fantastic opportunity for some of the brightest young minds to discover UK STEM and the cutting edge technology and research taking place here in the capital.

The big band played out the evening for Lindy Hopping physicists

At last year’s final in Odense, delegates enjoyed tours of the university laboratories, local facilities and the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. For some reason, physicists love Lindy Hopping. A big band played out the evening while guests carved geometric shapes around the dance floor.

See photos and videos from the 2019 PLANCKS competition and read more about the competition here.