World’s best young physicists compete in Estonia this summer

11 June 2012

This summer will bring one of the top events in the world of physical science to Tartu and Tallinn – the 43rd International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) will be held in Estonia from 15 to 24 July. Tartu will also become the world’s capital of physics for a day in 2012, which means that a number of exciting events will be offered to the town’s residents and guests. Dr Hans Jordens, the President of IPhO, visited Tallinn today.

“There is no doubt that the participants of the International Physics Olympiad will arrive in Estonia with great expectations,” said Hans Jordens. “Many of them are determined to win, but I believe that when the participants go back home, they all share a common understanding of how special the Olympiad is – it is the event that gives them the chance to meet people who are united by their passion for physics. Physics is simply captivating.“

“At the end of the 19th century, scientists thought that there was nothing left to discover in physics,” Said Hans Jordens. “But this is not the case at all – new discoveries are made every day about phenomena like the Higgs-boson or Majorama fermion. The broader goal of the International Physics Olympiad is to get students more interested in physics, because there is still a lot to discover.”

Secretary-General of the Ministry of Education and Research Janar Holm said that hosting the International Physics Olympiad and celebrating it with Tartu’s election as the world’s capital of physics is an important achievement for Estonia. “We want young people to show more interest in the physical sciences, and the events around the Olympiad and the world’s capital of physics should certainly help generate some curiosity,” added Holm.

“It is very important for Estonia that the International Physics Olympiad is being held here,” said the Head of the Olympiad’s Organising Committee, Board Member of the Estonian Information Technology Foundation Ene Koitla. “It is a very impressive event – 87 countries are represented with 420 students, which shows that young people in the world value the natural and exact sciences. We know how difficult the physical sciences are for many Estonian students, so we hope that the International Physics Olympiad raises the students’ motivation to master these subjects.”

Tartu will officially become the world’s capital of physics on 20 July, when physics can be found everywhere on the town’s streets. Also, Sir Harold Kroto, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996, will visit Estonia within the scope of the International Physics Olympiad. Sir Kroto will deliver a lecture in the Vanemuine Concert Hall on 20 July.

IPhO (The International Physics Olympiad) is an annual physics competition for secondary school students. The first Olympiad was organised by Professor Czesław Ścisłowski in Poland in 1967. The International Physics Olympiad has been held in a different country every year since then.

The Estonian Information Technology Foundation ( is a non-profit organisation established by the Republic of Estonia, the University of Tartu, the Tallinn University of Technology, Eesti Telekom and the Estonian Association of Telecommunications Companies for the purpose of helping to prepare IT specialists with university degrees who meet all modern requirements and supporting ICT education in Estonia.

For further information please contact:

Ene Koitla

Board Member, Estonian Information Technology Foundation

Head of the Organising Committee of IPhO 2012

E-mail:; telephone: +372 5 14 2957

Viire Sepp

Academic Secretary of the Steering Committee of IPhO 2012

Director, the Gifted and the Talented Development Centre of the UT

E-mail:; telephone: +372 5 18 9951