[Press & Publications] Computing in Tongues [Physics; Education]

April 2000

No 77

Leicester will become the International Physics City in the summer, when the University of Leicester hosts the 31st International Physics Olympiad, attracting Physics students from a record entry of 65 countries to take part in a battle of academic and experimental skills.

Thanks to the University's pioneering investment in new Microsoft 2000 software, language will be no barrier to the delegates keen to show off their scientific prowess. The state of the art technology will enable competitors to type assignments in their own languages.

Dr Brin Cooke, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is overseeing the translation of examination papers. He explains: "We ask all the participating countries to submit sample questions in their own languages so that we can set up a Windows environment for that language. We then feed in their question and email it to them to check that it all makes sense. We also send them a copy of the keyboard layout they will need to use. We try to make this as much like the layout they are used to as possible."

In May 1999 Leicester became the first university in the world to offer a major computing service based on a beta-release of Microsoft's Windows 2000 operating system. By the time the software was officially released in February 2000, the University already had nearly 1,000 client PCs running the new operating system and 5,000 registered users. By October 2000 all 8,500 students at the University will have started using the new service.

The International Physics Olympiad 2000 will benefit from this world-leading service at Leicester. The University Computer Centre will make available to the organisers of the Olympiad some 80 Pentium II PCs, each running Windows 2000.

A software image, created specially for the Olympiad, and Office 2000 with full international language support, will be installed simultaneously on each of the PCs via the campus network.

Dr Cooke is aware that the importance of the international event leaves no room for error in the arrangements. But he is confident. "It is all going very well. We know we can meet all the IPhO requirements. We have monthly meetings of the IPhO Committee and they are very impressed by the co-operation they have received from the University of Leicester, and the enthusiasm of the people involved here."

The 31st International Physics Olympiad will be held at the University of Leicester from Saturday 8 July to Sunday 16 July 2000. Participants will have passed a stringent examination in their own country. Each delegation will have five students and one adult leader and they will be met and hosted during their stay by a guide able to converse with them in a common language. In addition to a three-hour written examination and a five-hour practical test, the 450 young people converging on Leicester for the contest will be treated to a varied programme of social events.

Note for editors: Further information on the International Physics Olympiads is available from:

Dr C Isenberg, IPhO 2000 Office, tel +44 (0)1227 823768, fax +44 (0)1227 827558, email C.Isenberg@ukc.ac.uk

Specific information on the event in Leicester will be found on the Olympiad-2000 Website: http://www.star.le.ac.uk/IPhO-2000/, or from Dr Brin Cooke, Department of Physics and Astronomy, telephone +44 (0)116 252 3495, email bac@star.le.ac.uk or Jean Collins, Leicester Co-ordinator, IPhO, tel +44 (0)116 252 2675, email jco@star.le.ac.uk

Background Note:

Leicester is the site for the only Challenger Learning Centre to be so far set up outside America and will be the home of the new 46.5m National Space Science Centre, a Millennium Commission Landmark Project for the East Midlands, due to open in spring 2001. It has been jointly founded by the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council. The University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy has been at the forefront of space research for the past 30 years, working with NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as other international research groups. It is the largest university space research centre in Europe.

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 10 April 2000 16:38
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