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Frequently asked questions

Q: My country will not participate at IPhO-2012. Can I participate at the "Physics Cup – IPhO-2012"?

A: Yes, you can. There are only two conditions: your 21st birthday should be later than 30th June 2012, and you should not be a university student.

Q: How can I register for IPhO-2012?

A: "Physics Cup – IPhO-2012" is not to be confused with IPhO-2012. In order to compete in IPhO-2012, you need to be selected for your national IPhO-team. Typically, this involves participation in the national physics olympiad(s) and/or training camps with selection competitions.

Q: Can two or more students form a team and solve together?

A: No, this is an individual competition.

Q: Can I use books, internet sources etc. for solving the competition problems?

A: Yes, you can. This will teach you only a knowledge about physics, but you cannot find the solutions there (hopefully – at least for the majority of the problems).

Q: Can I ask the help of my teacher?

A: Yes, as long as he/she gives you only a book or points out a chapter there. No, if he/she would be going to give you the solution itself.

Q: Is my solution correct or wrong?

A: According to the rules, this will be made known on the next Sunday – in order to give the contestants opportunity to find mistakes by themselves (there is also a penalty difference, 0.9 vs 0.8 depending if the presence of an error was pointed out or the student found it himself/herself). But if you got "inner feeling" that everything is clear, then of course there are no mistakes. If not sure, check once again over (starting with a basic validation: are the dimensions correct, is the result OK for the special limit cases – some parameters are equal or zero, etc). Also, if you are not very sure about your solution, you better assume that it is not correct – the solutions don't get correct by lucky accidents.

Q: What will be the awards and how many awards will be given?

A:  The awards will include the experimental sets of the practical problems of IPhO-2012; also, there will be smaller prizes. Everyone who has solved at least one problem will get an official certificate of participation. The number of prizes will depend on the level of the results. The thresholds after the points of all 10 problems are added might be 5 points for the experimental sets and 2.5 points for smaller prizes; keep in mind that these numbers are only very tentative. The very best contestants will get more than one item.

Q: I already sent a correct solution, but now I found a more elegant one, can I submit it?

A: Yes, you can; if that elegant solution turns out to be the best one, you'll receive a factor of e, but the time of arrival of that new solution will define the bonus factor due to speed, and all the penalty factors earned with the previous solution(s) remain active. On the other hand, if it is still not the best solution, the speed factor of your first solution will be kept (ie. in that case the new solution would have no effect on your score).

Q: Since the students can solve the problems at home, wouldn't it be very easy for them to cheat?

A: Not  very easy, because using reference materials is not considered to be a cheating (note that professional physicists can also use reference materials while doing their research). The real cheating would be letting someone smarter than you solve the problem, and then presenting it as your own solution. However, only very few of you have smart enough people nearby. And even if you happen to have such a smart person around, he (or she) has probably high enough ethical norms so he wouldn't solve the problem for you. And even if he'd be willing to do it, would you let it happen? I mean, would you be happy getting the first or second place knowing that you cheated and the others did not? I am sure that the answer is no! So, let us assume that all the participants are nice people and there are no cheaters (there is even no need to mention that such kind of cheating tends to get revealed sooner or later)!


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