Are there giant ants in outer space? How is DNA crammed into the cell nucleus? How many Starbucks stores are there in Seattle? Can you extract information from a black hole?
Physics provides a powerful set of tools for understanding the world around us and answering remarkably diverse questions like the ones above. The UBC Physics Circle invites motivated high school students (grades 10–12) to join us as we build up this toolset, and apply it to everything from buying a cup of coffee to the deepest mysteries of the cosmos. Our main goal is to foster curiosity, creativity, and a sense of community.
Physics Circle consists of 2-hour sessions on Thursdays (from 5:15–7:15 PM), every 2–3 weeks. Physics Circle 2020/2021 meetings will begin in mid-October. The first four sessions will be on Oct 15/29 and Nov 12/26. This year, all sessions will be held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We strongly encourage students underrepresented in STEM – girls, Indigenous youth, and those from underprivileged communities – to participate.
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- Meetings start with lectures. Typically, a UBC physicist or astronomer will introduce their research, more advanced physics concepts, some applications of physics, or ideally all three (5:15–6:00).
- After the lecture, students are let loose on an auxiliary discussion topic or problem set (6:00–7:15). This is an informal setting where students can explore, ask questions, and learn actively together. We commonly make explorations beyond the high school syllabus, but the technical scope is limited to suit most backgrounds.
- Physics Circle volunteers facilitate discussions and provide guidance, as well as hold occasional problem-solving tutorials.
Topics and Resources of Current Cycle
The following list outlines the upcoming speakers and the approximate topics to be presented. Actual speech topics may vary.
- 2020.10.15 Nobel physics prize special — black holes and general relativity. David Wakeham
- 2020.10.29 Gases and molecular view of temperature. Mark Van Raamsdonk
- 2020.11.12 Pseudo-vectors and rotation in higher dimensions. Joanna Karczmarek
- 2020.11.26 Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Alex MacKay
- Discussion: Introduction to MRI
- 2020.12.10 Quantum information. Robert Raussendorf
- Discussion: Qubits and Quantum Gates
- 2021.01.14 Physics of rocketry. UBC Rocket Design Team
- 2021.01.28 Fourier Transforms Ketty Na
- 2021.02.11 The Remarkable Life of Galaxies Allison Man
- 2021.02.25 TBD Stefan Reinsburg
- 2021.03.11 Unsolved Problems in Physics Alex May
- 2021.03.25 TBD
Topics and Problems from Past Cycles
- What is Hawking radiation? Douglas Scott | Hawking radiation and evaporating black holes (solutions included)
- Lab tour at Stuart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute. Pinder Dosanjh | Energy, entropy and magnets (solutions)
- Rainbows (solutions). Pedram Amani | Optical principles and phenomena (solutions)
- The space weather of ultracool dwarfs. Anna Hughes | Detecting exoplanets and binary stars (solutions)
- What do condensed matter physicists do? Mona Berciu | Collisions and electricity (solutions)
- Astronomy. Deborah Good | Signals from aliens
- Gravitational waves. Jess McIver | Colliding black holes
- Quantum computing. SBQMI: Diversifying Talent in Quantum Computing (DTQC)
- Particle physics and the Standard Model. Robin Hayes
- Dimensional analysis. David Wakeham
- Fermi estimates. Pedram Amani
- Random walks. David Wakeham
- Einstein’s atomic escapades. David Wakeham
- Astronomy and astrophysics. Jaymie Matthews | Problem set (solutions)
- Music and physics. Chris Waltham | Problem set (solutions)
- Quantum mechanics. Mark Van Raamsdonk | Problem set (solutions)
- Cosmology. Douglas Scott | Problem set (solutions)
- Exploring the nano-universe. Gary Tom | Problem set (solutions)
- Early days with quantum tasks. Alex May | Problem set (solutions)
- Astronomy and astrophysics. Christa Van Laerhoven | Problem set (solutions)
- Dimensional analysis. David Wakeham | Problem set (solutions)
- Dark matter and neural nets. Lucas Bezerra | Problem set
- Fermi problems. David Wakeham | Problem set
- Astronomy and astrophysics. Mark Halpern | Problem set (solutions)
- ATLAS experiment at CERN. Alison Lister | Problem set (solutions)
- Low and high dimensions. Joanna Karczmarek | Problem set (solutions)
- Molecular dreidels: Spinning molecules with a laser beam. Valery Milner | Problem set (solutions)
- Optics lab: Geometrical optics phenomena. Joss Ives
- Condensed matter. Ian Affleck | Problem set (solutions)
- Medical physics. Alex MacKay | Problem set
We are grateful to the past Physics Circle speakers.
Pedram Amani, Mariposa Casida, Amritabha Guha (program coordinator 2020-21), Candice Ip, Tiffany Matthe, Marianne Moore, Joshua Tindall, Chris Waddell, David Wakeham, Ashley Warner, Rio Weil (program coordinator 2020–21), Alice Xiong (program coordinator 2020–21), Grace Zhang
Past volunteers: Hailey Ahn, Connor Bevington, Philip Bement, Sean Chen, Sean Ghaeli, Peter Gysbers, Andy Hsu, Daniel Korchinski, Pedram Laghaei, Ennio Moreau