Laws of Physics, Applied!
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
“Math, science, history, unravelling the mysteries, it all started with the BIG BANG!
Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology, it all started with the Big Bang!”
- The Bare Naked Ladies
The title track of my favourite show The Big Bang Theory started to buzz in my mind while talking to Shinjini Saha, Ahmed Maksud and Shovon Biswas. These youngsters have brought a one-of-its-kind glory for Bangladeshone Bronze Medal and two Honourable Mentions, by competing at the International Physics Olympiad (IPHO) 2012. The two other members of the proud Team Bangladesh 2012 are Kinjal Borua from Chittagong College and Wasif Ahmed from Notre Dame College. They still find it surreal as after going through a series of obstacles and uncertainty, they could reach Estonia, the host country for the 43rd IPHO, held from July 15 to 24, 2012.
Team Bangladesh at IPHO, 2012.
Maksud has just passed HSC examinations from RAJUK Uttara Model College securing a golden GPA 5. He has gained an Honourable Mention at the IPHO 2012. The classes of the camp of Bangladesh Physics Olympiad and the HSC exams were going on at the same time. Maksud says, “It was really hectic for me to do the classes alongside appearing for the exams. But in the camp, we got to study many new dimensions of Physics, outside the HSC syllabus. Our teacher, Arshad Momen, gave us a total of nine books in PDF format which are usually taught at universities! For example, Quantum Mechanics, Thermo Dynamics, Magnetism, Web Optics, Oscillation, Big Bang Theory and so on. When Jahangir Masud, our team leader called the five of us and told us that we have been selected for IPHO, we felt as if our hard work had paid off. But then, the problem of funding occurred.”
The Bangladesh Physics Olympiad Committee had no fund, no sponsor and no government support as mentioned by the members and Professor Arshad Momen, Department of Theoretical Physics, University of Dhaka. He was the Coach of Team Bangladesh. Maksud continues, “At the eleventh hour, the committee informed us that they couldn't manage any sponsor. We needed 13 lakh takas in total, for our registration. At last United Commercial Bank, Mercantile Bank and, Space Zero Ltd came forward as sponsors but even then, it was not sufficient. We had to bear the ticket fare which is not very small amount. But no one wanted to miss such an opportunity.”
The Bronze Medallist, Shinjini Saha, is preparing for A Level examinations from Cephalon International School, Dhaka. As she was attending A2 exams in May, she could not study for the Olympiad that month. So she had only one month to study before the IPHO commenced. Soft-spoken Shinjini said that Physics has been her favourite subject since childhood. She likes Classical Mechanics the most. “We are really not geeks or the bookish type as the stereotype about Physics aficionados go on! We hardly talk about Physics when the five of us get together,” smilingly explains Shinjini. She adds, “The Bangladeshi team is like an infant at the IPHO. This is only the second time that Bangladesh has participated there. There is no word to describe how happy we are with our achievements!" After getting done with her A Level exams, she will prepare herself for next year's IPHO and International Math Olympiad. Her target is the silver medal.
An Honourable Mention was awarded to Shovon Biswas, who is preparing for his HSC examinations at Chittagong College. The whole experience was like an adventurous journey for him. “The exams were divided into two parts--theoretical and experimental. This year the questions were actually set to difficult. We gave our exams at the Estonian University of Life Sciences located at Tartu, 150 kilometres away from the capital Tallinn. The theoretical and experimental exams were held on July 16 and 17 respectively. On the 20th, Tartu was declared as the 'World Capital of Physics' for two days. We met Nobel Laureate, Harold Kroto at the Vanemuise Concert Hall which is a memory we will always cherish," says Shovon.
Maksud says, “After giving the exams we were really depressed as we thought our exams went really bad. We thought Shanjini might get an honourable mention and the others might get nothing. So we just started to roam about with our guide, Nelle Kriisa. She was really friendly with us. We saw the museums, science centre, Adventure Park, the Pirita beach, the Rakvere Castle of the 13th century and much more. We were really sad while leaving the city.”
All of these young visionaries want to create a difference in the national curriculum of Physics, which, they feel, is lagging behind on the international standard. They want to bridge the gap between the laws of Physics and their applications. Most of them want to work as Physicists and work for the improvement of the 'experimental' section of Physics which is less taught in Bangladesh especially in the Bangla medium schools and colleges.