UBC Physics Circle

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 toolkit, 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.

We are running in-person Physics Circle sessions this academic year 2022-2023!

Physics Circle 2022/2023 meetings will begin November 2nd, 2022 with biweekly sessions consisting of 2-hour sessions on Wednesdays in Term 1 (September – December), and on Thursdays in Term 2 (January – April) from 5:30–7:30 PM.

We strongly encourage students underrepresented in STEM – girls, Indigenous youth, and those from underprivileged communities – to participate.

Please email physics.circle@phas.ubc.ca if you have any questions.


  • 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 (5:30–6:15).
  • After the lecture, students are let loose on an auxiliary discussion topic or problem set (6:15–7:30). 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

2022 – 2023

  • 2022.11.02 Physics Circle program Welcome! Meet new members and Physics Circle volunteers and enjoy a problem-solving session with relativity questions!
  • 2022.11.16 With Physics & Astronomy Professor Dr. Allison Man; Discussion: “An Exercise in Basic Astronomy” (slide and solutions) by Aakash Anantharaman
  • 2022.11.30 **Today’s session is cancelled; it has been rescheduled for December 7th**
  • 2022.12.07 **Today’s session is cancelled; it has been rescheduled for February 16, 2023**
  • 2023.02.16 “ATLAS experiment at CERN”, by Dr. Alison Lister
  • 2023.03.09 “DNA Biophysics”, by Cindy Shaheen; Discussion: “DNA Biophysics” (slide and solutions) by Cindy Shaheen
  • 2023.03.23 “Connecting Physics Across all Scales – the Renormalization Group”, by Gaurav Tenkila
  • 2023.04.06 “Optics & Lasers”, by Dr. Valery Milner

Topics and Problems from Past Cycles

2021 – 2022

2020 – 2021




We are grateful to the past Physics Circle speakers.

Our Volunteers

2022 – 2023: Peter Yazdi, Aakash Anantharaman, Nicholas Rees, Alice Xiong

2021 – 2022: Arnab Adhikary (program coordinator 2021–22), Pedram Amani, Morgan Arnold, Jocelyn Baker, Anneke den Breejen, Kara Deane, Amritabha Guha, Candice Ip, Diego Araujo Najera, Cindy Shaheen, Joshua Tindall, Luke Vance, Chris Waddell, David Wakeham, Ashley Warner, Rio Weil (program coordinator 2020–22), Alice Xiong (program coordinator 2020–22)

Past volunteers: Hailey Ahn, Connor Bevington, Philip Bement, Mariposa Casida, Sean Chen, Sean Ghaeli, Peter Gysbers, Andy Hsu, Daniel Korchinski, Pedram Laghaei, Tiffany Matthe, Marianne Moore, Ennio Moreau, Grace Zhang

Spherical cows may happen.