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.

*Physics Circle sessions have finished for this academic year. Thank you everyone for participating! Sessions will resume in October, 2024.

Physics Circle 2024/2025 meetings will begin in October [DATE: TBD] with biweekly sessions consisting of 2-hour sessions on Wednesdays to be determined for both Term 1 (September – December) and Term 2 (January – April) from 5:00–7:00 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.

Sean Ghaeli and Dr. Tom Mattison with “Beauty and the Beast”, an award-winning UBC Rocket Club machine, from our Jan 24th session!
2023-2024 Physics Circle Volunteers with PHAS faculty Dr. Mark Van Raamsdonk (centre). Volunteers from Left to Right: Micah Piva, Sean Ghaeli, Debojyoti Biswas and Danielle Egilson.


  • 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 (5:00–5:45).
  • After the lecture, students are let loose on an auxiliary discussion topic or problem set (5:45–7:00). 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

2023 – 2024

Topics and Problems from Past Cycles

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
  • 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

2021 – 2022

2020 – 2021




We are grateful to the past Physics Circle speakers.

Our Volunteers

2023-2024: Sean Ghaeli, Micah Piva, Debojyoti Biswas, Danielle Egilson.

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.