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The 31st International Physics Olympiad is to be hosted by the University of Leicester, which has an international reputation for its research and teaching in physics, astronomy and space science.
Some 65 teams of star students from all round the world, studying Physics at A-Level or an equivalent standard, will gather in Leicester next July to take part in an intellectual marathon of theoretical and practical examinations which will help identify the champion physicists of the new millennium.
Each participating team will consist of five students chosen after a stiff competition in their own country. The Olympiad has four rounds, the first three of which determine the make-up of each national team. More than 10,000 sixth-formers entered the first round in Britain a year ago, from which emerged the team which competed in the 1999 finals in Padua, Italy, in July, gaining three silver and two bronze medals.
Next year's Olympiad, in Leicester, will run from 8-16 July 2000 and will not be all work for the visiting students! At the opening ceremony at the De Montfort Hall they will be welcomed by the Lord Mayor of Leicester and the University Vice-Chancellor, and entertained by the prestigious Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra.
Throughout their stay the students will have the opportunity to explore some of the beauty spots in the heart of England, including the ancient university towns of Oxford and Cambridge and Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford on Avon. They will also be able to let their hair down at the region's most exciting leisure park, Alton Towers and - closer to home - in the Leicester Students' Union Disco, or can relax at the health club alongside the University campus.
Leicester is the site of the new National Space Science Centre, a Millennium Landmark Project in which the City and University are principal participants, and Olympiad finalists will be able to test their skills and initiative in simulated space missions in the Challenger Learning Centre, located next to the University's Space Research Centre, and an integral part of the NSSC.
Dr Brin Cooke, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, explained how the University came to be chosen to host the 'millennium Olympiad'. "Having agreed on a bid from the UK, which previously hosted the Olympiad in London in 1986, the Olympiad Committee visited Leicester and felt the location and the campus facilities were particularly suitable to welcome such a large group of international students. They also remarked on the enthusiasm of the departmental staff to hold the event here. Now that enthusiasm has to be translated into making the event an outstanding success."
Dr Cooke acknowledged that the timetable for the Olympiad week is very tight and leaves little room for breakdown or error in equipment. Computers, in particular, need to handle over 20 different languages for the examinations, and foreign language students and staff at the University will be called on to assist in the translation of papers and to help non-English-speaking visitors make the most of their stay in the UK.
Professor Ken Pounds, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy added: "I am naturally delighted that Leicester has been chosen as the host for the 31st International Physics Olympiad. We are very much looking forward to welcoming this group of 300 of the brightest young scientists from around the world."
Further information on the International Physics Olympiads is available from Dr C Isenberg,IPhO 2000 Office, telephone +44 (0)1227 823768, facsimile +44 (0)1227 827558, email C.Isenberg@ukc.ac.uk
Specific information on the event in Leicester will be found on the Olympiad-2000 Web site, http://www.star.le.ac.uk/IPhO-2000/Attention Picture Editors : On Monday 25 October at 4.30 pm in the University of Leicester Physics Building, North Foyer, the Olympiad medal and citation which this year belong in Leicester as the host city will be handed to the University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess, by the Chairman of the Physics Olympiad National Committee.
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