The University Physics Competition

The 2012 University Physics Competition

The 2012 contest started on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 6pm MDT, when the following problems were posted:

Problem A. Volcanism on Super-Earths

Mercury and the Moon do not currently have active volcanoes, while the Earth and Venus do.  This largely because the Earth and Venus are bigger planets and so their interiors have not cooled off as much since the formation of the solar system.  Astronomers have recently discovered a population of extrasolar planets called super-earths, worlds with masses several times larger than the Earth.  How would the level of volcanic activity vary over time for Earth-like planets with masses ranging from 0.5 to 3 times the mass of the Earth?

Problem B. Table Tennis Ball Sizes

In the year 2000, the International Table Tennis Federation changed the official ball diameters from 38mm to 40mm.  The purpose of this was to increase the effects of air resistance, and slow down the game, in order to make it more fun to watch as a televised spectator sport.  If the diameter was increased further, would this make the game an even better spectator sport?  What would be the best ball diameter, in order to make the game as fun to watch as possible?

The following announcement of results was made on Friday, December 21, 2012:

Full results announcement and complete listing of all medals in the 2012 University Physics Competition

We are very pleased to announce the results of the third annual University Physics Competition. The University Physics Competition is an international contest for undergraduate students, who worked in teams of up to three students at their home colleges and universities all over the world, and spent 48 hours during the weekend of November 16, 17 & 18 analyzing an applied scenario using the principles of physics, and writing a formal paper describing their work.


In this year’s competition 81 teams submitted papers for judging. 24 teams selected “Problem A - Volcanism on Super-Earths” and 57 teams selected “Problem B - Table Tennis Ball Sizes.”


For Problem A, the Gold Medal Winning Team was:


Team 449: Yanrong Li, Yihe Tang, & Xiwa Deng

Institution: Shanghai Jiao Tong University

Team Advisor: Mateusz Krzyzosiak


For problem B, the Gold Medal Winning Team was:


Team 414: Gabriel Loke Zi Jie, Lim Rong Sheng, Tan Tee Hao

Institution: National University of Singapore

Team Advisor: Chang Sheh Lit


Of the 81 paper submitted in the 2012 University Physics Competition, 2 teams (2.5%) were ranked as Gold Medal Winners, 14 teams (17%) were ranked as Silver Medal Winners, 23 teams (28%) were ranked as Bronze Medal Winners, and 42 teams (52%) were ranked as Accomplished Competitors.


We extend our sincerest congratulations to each of the 81 competing teams for their excellent work and their enthusiasm for physics!


Kelly S. Cline

Carroll College; Helena, MT

Director of the 2012 University Physics Competition,