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News

The United Nations Proclaims 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology 

Today, the U.N. proclaimed 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology (IYQ). This year-long, worldwide initiative will celebrate the contributions of quantum science to technological progress over the past century, raise global awareness of its importance to sustainable development in the 21st century, and ensure that all nations have access to quantum education and opportunities.

“Through this proclamation, we will bring quantum STEM education and research to young people in Africa and developing countries around the world with the hope of inspiring the next generation of scientists, “ said Riche-Mike Wellington, Chief Programme Specialist at the Ghana Commission for UNESCO and the Ghanaian representative for IYQ.

IYQ coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of modern quantum mechanics — the theory that describes the behavior of matter and energy at atomic and subatomic scales and has made possible many of the world’s most important technologies. Over the past century, quantum theory has become foundational to physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology and has revolutionized modern electronics and global telecommunications. Inventions like the transistor, lasers, rare-earth magnets, and LEDs  — technologies that brought the internet, computers, solar cells, MRI, and global navigation into fruition — all exist because of quantum mechanics. 

Looking forward, advances in quantum applications could enable new computing and communication models with the potential to accelerate innovations in materials science, medicine, and cybersecurity, among other fields. In this way, quantum science and technology is poised to help address the world’s most pressing challenges — including the need to rapidly

develop renewable energy, improve human health, and create global solutions in support of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“This second quantum revolution is leading to breakthroughs in using quantum effects like superposition and entanglement for new applications,” said John Doyle, Henry B. Silsbee Professor of Physics at Harvard University, co-director of the Harvard Quantum Initiative, and president-elect of the American Physical Society. “When these phenomena can be applied broadly to control and engineer matter at the level of single quanta, and even single atoms, they will spark transformations in a multitude of technologies.”

The U.N. proclamation is the culmination of a multiyear effort spearheaded by an international coalition of scientific organizations. After Mexico shepherded the coalition’s initial proposal through UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference in November 2023, Ghana formally submitted a draft resolution to the U.N. General Assembly in May 2024 that garnered co-sponsorship from more than 70 countries before its approval today. 

UNESCO will oversee the campaign as the U.N.’s lead agency, while the American Physical Society will administer the campaign through an international consortium and invite scientific societies, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, and industry to contribute to the initiative. The consortium’s current founding partners include the American Physical Society; the German Physical Society (DPG); the Chinese Optical Society; SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics; and Optica (formerly OSA).

“The American Physical Society welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with scientific organizations from around the world to spread awareness about quantum science and technology,” said Jonathan Bagger, chief executive officer of the American Physical Society. “With worldwide events and programming, we hope to build a vibrant and inclusive global quantum science community.”

Broad, multinational support for IYQ signals the need to strengthen the education, research, and development capacities of governments — especially those of low- and middle-income countries — to advance quantum science and technologies for the benefit of humanity. The U.N. proclamation stands as an open invitation for anyone to learn more — especially those at universities, in K-12 classrooms, and other venues for science communication. Throughout 2025, the IYQ consortium will organize regional, national, and international outreach events, activities, and programming to celebrate and develop learning resources for quantum science, build scientific partnerships that will expand educational and research opportunities in developing countries, and inspire the next generation of diverse quantum pioneers. More information about these activities will be announced in the coming months.

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News

IAPS Charts a New Path at the Extraordinary General Meeting

The International Association of Physics Students recently held an Extraordinary General Meeting. Representatives from various countries gathered for the meeting, during which the association introduced important initiatives to enhance its influence, effectiveness, and structure.

One of the standout moments from the meeting was the exciting addition of TC Singapore, LC Jerusalem, and LC Zoul Mikael to the IAPS membership. This decision not only expands the association’s reach to different regions, but also introduces a wide range of viewpoints among its members.

Leadership transitions were also a significant area of attention, with elections conducted for the Members and Advocacy Manager roles. Irene Carrion Lopez, representing TC Spain, has been elected as the new Members and Advocacy Manager. With her expertise and vision, she will lead the association’s efforts in advocacy and membership engagement.

With a strategic vision for modernization and revitalization, IAPS has revealed a new brand identity, showcasing its dedication to adaptability and innovation in the dynamic field of physics.

However, what truly stood out at the meeting was the revolutionary decision to transition from National Committees to Territorial Committees. This significant change sets the stage for a membership structure that is more inclusive and accessible, removing the obstacles that used to impede student involvement in the association.

In addition, IAPS decided to apply for UN Consultancy Status, demonstrating the association’s dedication to worldwide involvement and advocacy for matters of scientific significance.

Lastly, as a testament to its commitment to preserving the environment, IAPS announced its plans to join the Earth Humanity Coalition, joining forces with esteemed organizations to work towards a more sustainable future. Ultimately, it aims to inspire and mobilize the global youth community to take action and drive positive change.

The outcomes of the Extraordinary General Meeting demonstrate IAPS’s commitment to promoting cooperation, creativity, and diversity within its community. Keep an eye out for more updates on these exciting developments as IAPS remains at the forefront of shaping the future of physics education and research.

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News

Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

As we mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the International Association of Physics Students is proud to reflect on the advances we have made towards gender equality and empowerment within the scientific community. This day is not just a celebration but a call to action to break down the barriers that have held women and girls back in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.

Our association, with over 90.000 members from across the globe, has always championed the cause of women in physics. Our initiatives aim to provide a supportive environment that encourages the participation of women in all aspects of physics, from academic research and teaching to industry and leadership roles. We believe that empowering women and girls in science is essential for achieving scientific excellence and addressing the complex challenges of our time.

In our continuous effort to support and promote gender equality in physics, IAPS has also established the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group, which focuses on Women in Physics, amongst other topics. This group advocates for women’s rights, provides resources and support for women physicists, and organizes initiatives that aim to reduce gender disparities in the field. We invite all members who are passionate about this cause to join the EDI Working Group and contribute to our efforts to make physics more inclusive and equitable.

Additionally, in a significant milestone for our organization and a testament to our commitment to promoting gender equality in physics, we are thrilled to announce that our Vice President, Niloofar Jokar, has been named an Associated Member of the Working Group 5: Women In Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP).

Niloofar shared a statement that reflects the synergy between the missions of IUPAP and IAPS:

I am thrilled to become involved as an Associate Member of Working Group 5: Women In Physics of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP). This achievement signifies not only a personal milestone but most importantly reflects the shared commitment of IUPAP and the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS) to promoting inclusivity and equity within the scientific community.
Both organizations are dedicated advocates for diversity, recognizing the vital role women play in advancing the field of physics. Together, we are determined to break down barriers, advocate for gender equality, and empower the next generation of female physicists. Our collective mission emphasizes the importance of collaboration and solidarity in driving meaningful change.
My appointment to Working Group 5 is a tremendous honor and aligns perfectly with my passion for creating a more inclusive world of science. I am deeply committed to contributing to this mission and working alongside dedicated individuals who share our vision.
In this role, I look forward to bringing the perspectives and insights of the youth community in Physics, attained from my involvement in IAPS as the Vice-President to the discussion on gender equality in physics. My enthusiasm for promoting diversity and inclusivity in science is persistent, and I am excited to embark on this journey with IUPAP and IAPS.
Together, we can make a significant impact and pave the way for a more equitable and diverse scientific community.

As always emphasized by Michel Spiro, the President of IUPAP: “yes we can and yes we must!!”

Niloofar Jokar, IAPS Vice President & Events Manager

As we celebrate this day, let us all reaffirm our commitment to fostering an environment where every aspiring scientist can thrive, regardless of gender. Let’s work together to ensure that women and girls in science are recognized, supported, and empowered to achieve their full potential.

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Article of the Month IAPS 2023-2024 jIAPS

Mind-Matter Collider – jIAPS October Article of the Month: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Physics

Author: Octavian Ianc, University of Bucharest, Romania

Illustrated by Kyoka Stone, University of Toronto

Imagine that you are a researcher at CERN. Some of you already are, others have this on their schedule a few years in the future. Now, what are you doing there? Among other things, you’re analyzing hundreds of petabytes of experimental data. Assuming that you’re a sane person who doesn’t want to spend the next few million years stuck in front of a computer, you don’t do this by hand. You use some machine learning algorithms¹. These algorithms are artificial, no one has seen classifiers growing in trees. And, if my university lecturer did not make up definitions out of thin air, they are, in a way, intelligent.

Dramatis personae: artificial intelligence and physics.

It all began in the last few years, when lots of commercial AI implementations became available. Actually no, it began in 1997, when Deep Blue beat Kasparov in chess. Or in the 50s, when Turing wrote something about tests and machines. No, even earlier, with those philosophers babbling about formalizing logic and reasoning. It’s almost impossible to come up with a definite answer regarding when the idea of artificial intelligence appeared. What’s certain is that things which someone from 50 years ago would have considered as intelligent are around us. For now, and probably for ever.

We’re physicists: dedicating our lives to studying the different phenomena that surround us. Wouldn’t it be, and this is a huge understatement, absolutely crazy if one of these phenomena turned everything around and started studying us? We’ll get there soon, let’s take it gradually.

Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneers of the field, defines artificial intelligence as “the science of making machines do things that would require intelligence if done by men”². This encompasses a lot of stuff. While not being the first things you think of, sorting a list of numbers or navigating through a network are tasks that would require a fair share of human intelligence. Those are boring, we won’t talk about them. We only want true intelligence here. So we’ll have true intelligence. And also physics. And cats – everyone loves cats.

As you’ve noticed by now, intelligent algorithms are a cornerstone of modern research, both in physics and in most other fields, especially when it comes to finding hidden patterns in huge datasets. An algorithm is better, faster, and does not get bored nearly as quickly as we do. Another important field where AI is a great competitor to traditional approaches is in the modelling of complex systems. When talking about predicting molecular properties³, predicting weather⁴ or, analysing complex economic parameters⁵ (why not?), artificial intelligence is able to do some feats for which classical methods need orders of magnitude more time or are outright incapable of.

This link between physics and the thing called artificial intelligence is however nothing new. From the 70s, researchers worked on something which would later be called a Hopfield network⁶, named after J.J. Hopfield, a physicist who brought this into attention. Until then, everyone thought information had to be stored in a straightforward way: words written on a piece of paper, 1 or 0 bits in a hard drive, and so on. What these guys did was to prove this is not always the case. You can also store information using the connections or couplings between elements of a system. In a nutshell, these networks are very similar to the Ising model for magnetism, in fact they’re inspired from it. You have a grid of tiny magnets which can point either up or down, and are coupled between each other. If the coupling strengths are suitable and the system is left to evolve, it will converge, from any initial state, in one or a few chosen states (“memories” of the system).

Now, memory, intelligence, analyzing tons of data in a blink of an eye, all those don’t sound horrible at all. ChatGPT helping with that pesky programming task sounds even better. Yet, as one famous economist put it, ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’. All these shenanigans come with their fair share of disadvantages and problems.

First of all, to put it frankly, we have no idea what most of these algorithms are doing, or why they are giving a certain output. This is especially true about deep neural networks, the workhorses of a lot of machine learning applications. As a simple example, we can take any task which has something to do with images (finding faces, classifying cats etc.)⁷. These are, most of the time, accomplished with convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Different operations are sequentially applied to the image’s pixel values, ending up with the desired result (a number, a category, whatever). Let’s say we try to analyze such a system. The first layer or couple of layers are quite easy to understand: they detect edges, gradients, basic image features. Surprisingly, this is extremely close to how our visual system does its job. However, if we try to go past this, we’re more or less stuck⁸. It’s quasi-impossible for a researcher to get even a general idea about why the network does what it does. All we see is some numbers. If you have seen the movie Inception (if not, you definitely should), it’s kind of like that. There, the protagonists are navigating through an intricate world, which interconnects levels of reality with dreams. Understanding a deep neural network is similar, but we’re still stuck in the uppermost levels.

Let’s get a bit more intellectual, calling in some philosophy. At its core, any software piece we could refer to as intelligent is nothing more than a set of mathematical rules that is applied to data collected from the real world. When something like this is capable of doing independent research, what happens exactly?

A point can be made even aiming at the fundamentals of the scientific method. Suppose we analyze experimental data using an AI. We obtain predictions, we can verify those predictions. However, what we’re doing is that we’re morphing an unknown, the physical phenomenon we’re trying to study, into a different one, the model that was trained on that data. Although we can, in a sense, predict the real phenomenon, we still don’t have the vaguest of ideas about the governing laws. We just have a black box that supposedly can predict it. Although we have some results, is this still science? This looks similar to the differences between science and engineering. Very broadly, a scientist is interested in understanding phenomena, while an engineer aims to harness these phenomena and provide useful results, while still keeping at least a general understanding of the process at hand. When using an AI model to analyze data and make predictions, we’re most of the time losing even that general understanding. One might dare to say this is neither science, nor engineering.

We’ve traditionally referred to mathematics as a man-made tool, which we use to harness the unpredictability of the world around us. The weirdness happens when this math starts creating other math. The mere idea that it is a tool, stemming from our minds and being entirely dependent on it, begins to shatter when this math starts doing stuff without us. It’s as if a hammer would start building by itself. Or as if a cat from your dream would scratch you in real life. There’s even more to this. Gödel’s incompleteness theorems⁹, important results of mathematical logic, state that if you start with a finite number of assumptions (axioms), you would be unable to prove all true propositions of that logical system. As a consequence, you won’t be ever able to prove or disprove that system as consistent. For our AI-scientist, this would mean that it, by the virtue of its own existence, places hard limits on its abilities. For us humans, limitations come mostly from the physical world. I can’t run at 500 km/h because the muscles in my legs are not strong enough, due to air resistance etc. For mathematics (and, as a consequence, physics), the mere fact that it exists creates a constraint on itself.

To sum it all up, the marriage of artificial intelligence and physics has and will continue to revolutionize the way we do research, and not only that. In the midst of these scientific and philosophical ponderings, we find ourselves both awe-inspired and cautious, marvelling at the possibilities while recognizing the need for responsibility.

References:

  1. “AI at CERN | sparks.web.cern.ch.”

2. Minsky, “Semantic Information Processing.”

3. Wiercioch and Kirchmair, “DNN-PP.”

4. Hickey, “Using Machine Learning to ‘Nowcast’ Precipitation in High Resolution. | ai.googleblog.com.” 

5. Bickley, Chan, and Torgler, “Artificial Intelligence in the Field of Economics.”

6. Hopfield, “Neural Networks and Physical Systems with Emergent Collective Computational Abilities

7. “Deep Learning (Adaptive Computation and Machine Learning Series): Goodfellow, Ian, Bengio, Yoshua, Courville, Aaron: 9780262035613: Amazon.Com: Books.”

 8. Zhang et al., “A Survey on Neural Network Interpretability.”

9. Gödel, “On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica And Related Systems.”

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IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Niloofar Jokar (IAPS Events Manager)

Here’s the latest in the series of EC Interviews – the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief challenged themselves to interview all of the EC members before the end of the year. This one was completed on time, but we’ve only just got around to uploading it. 

This time, it is the turn of Niloofar, the IAPS Events Manager, to be interviewed:

What are you currently studying?

I’ve just graduated from my Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Astroparticle Physics subdivision, at Isfahan University of Technology in Iran. I’m looking for the next step for graduate studies and considering options for PhD.

What does your role as IAPS Events Manager involve?

My main task is to supervise, maintain and assure that all events are completed successfully, and to support every Organising Committee (OC) along the way on behalf of the EC. This may sound cringy, but it often feels like a motherhood experience where you feel equally and deeply responsible for every single detail about each event as if it’s your child but you also believe in the OCs, respecting them to thrive freely and have their own creativity towards a successful event. To state the obvious, the events IAPS organises would not be as great without their amazingly dedicated and skilled OCs. The role of the Events Manager is to be present in the background, providing support and guidance, and making sure that everything is going well.

Every single IAPS event is close to my heart – I want to be available 24/7 to them. It doesn’t matter whether they have an IT or a financial issue, or if a hotel is not going along with the room bookings, it is my responsibility to jump in. The Events Manager also has the knowledge and connections to direct the OCs to more skilled people in a particular area.

Which events have you supported this year?

ICPS 2023 (International Conference for Physics Students), PLANCKS 2023 (Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-ass Students), IPT 2023 (International Physicists’ Tournament) – they are the main ones, the major ones in 2023. I also joined IAPS4Materials and represented IAPS at the ‘Women of the World in Physics!’ Event, the second edition of which will be jointly organized by IAPS. There are also the events from the previous year which I have a smaller contribution to, completing the final steps of PLANCKS 2022 and ICPS 2022. Then, we are continuing the process for PLANCKS 2024 and ICPS 2024.

What is your favourite event that you have supported as IAPS Events Manager?

That is like asking which is my favourite child – once again all of the events are close to my heart. I got to experience PLANCKS 2023 in person and it was amazing. I’m also looking forward to ICPS 2023. All of the events are great!

At PLANCKS 2023, you had to introduce IAPS at the Opening Ceremony. Do you enjoy the public speaking element to being IAPS Events Manager?

In IAPS, the community is always friendly and warm, making you forget about the worries of a big stage. So since the beginning I found any presentation very comfortable and enjoyable, which is honestly the best practice for soft skills improvement. As soon as I stand up to speak, it feels like talking to a big group of friends!

What are some of the biggest obstacles of supporting events?

This is completely different with smaller events and major ones. With major events, these are big projects, and you have a team of very dedicated people involved for two years. As the time gets closer to the event, the pressure becomes really high. The role of the IAPS Events Manager is to dial down the pressure and by clear guidance make sure that the OC feels supported. As for minor events, I would say an obstacle is to maintain consistency as these events must take place more frequently. For these OCs, members are expected to remain in the project in a shorter period of time. This means a totally new OC composition is required for the next edition in only a few months. So once the project is over, finding a new OC and transferring the knowledge may be a bit challenging.

Who do you have to work closely with in your role as Events Manager – both on the IAPS EC (Executive Committee) and beyond it?

Outside of the EC and before the OCs, the Events Secretary is the main one, aware of the details of the job obviously as the main source of assistance for the Events Manager; however, the IAPS Events Manager is connected to almost all areas of IAPS and you have to remain in really close contact with everyone involved. I’d have to name all the EC members… Who do I have to work most closely with on the EC? I’d say Cyrus (President), Mario (Treasurer) and Gabriel (Vice-President and Recruitment Officer). 

On the management side, I have to keep in contact with the president(s) of each OC. There were times when we had meetings with the OC of a major event which lasted two or three hours – these meetings were long but a blessing and absolutely essential. The details of the event become very important. You have to work long hours for these meetings and it may seem really strange, but I suppose that’s the side of the story unseen by many. From these long meetings, you sometimes feel closer and attached to that event even more than you already have, which is a beautiful experience on its own.

I’ve just thought of another question from that answer – approximately how many people have you become in close contact with through being IAPS Events Manager that you wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise?

How many? Many, many people… I don’t think I can put an accurate number on it. I’ll go with fifty or more, regarding people I’ve worked with directly – and maybe twenty people I have been contacting as a weekly routine and know well – but I’m sure it’s more than that. These are the people I’ve spoken to regularly. 

What skills do you need to become IAPS Events Manager?

You need a complete set of skills! The most important is perhaps time management – you have a lot of tasks and ongoing projects, as well as projects which have already happened and those upcoming events. The workload is no joke. Also, the ability to communicate with different OCs – each is from a different country, with a different culture which is very exciting; they are truly international. It can be a challenge to choose the pace each OC feels comfortable to go with while securing the success of the tasks; so you definitely need communication skills and time management on top of everything else.

How can IAPS members get involved with organising events?

It’s very simple: just drop an email to events@iaps.info. If you have a brand new idea for an event, we’d love to hear from you. The EC is there to guide you, as the organising committee of an event, and to provide support for you, so you can learn step-by-step as you organise the event. Organising events may seem scary from the outside, but the EC is very supportive and can show you the way. You shouldn’t be hesitant about contacting us – whatever idea you have within IAPS context, we’ll find a place for it!

How have you found the experience of being part of the IAPS EC?

It has been quite a challenging experience for me this year. There have been some environmental difficulties in my country which have provided some serious challenges and affected my work pace as well. But even though this happened to me on a personal level,… how can I phrase it? IAPS is more than an association. I have gained friends for life. I am grateful for the support of my fellow EC members. I’ve learnt lots of lessons and definitely enjoyed this experience. This is more than a community; it is like a family. You are involved in so many things for such a long time, it really helps to form unbreakable bonds. Having such valuable friendships touches upon personal development as well.

What has been one of your best moments as part of the IAPS EC this year?

The ending of the Mulhouse meeting* – it was the first time we had all met each other. By the end of the meeting, we really felt like a team, gathered together and backing each other up. When you’ve been working for a year together and only meeting through the screen, it’s hard to create the human element of the community. Meeting in person was amazing. 

*You mentioned the Mulhouse meeting. Can you summarise what this is?

Sure! IAPS as an association has its official seat in Mulhouse, France, where the headquarters of the European Physical Society (EPS) is located. The Mulhouse meeting is a memorable and important time of the year when the respective IAPS EC of the term gather from all around the world to meet in person in the headquarters of EPS, in order to have constructive discussions over the work plan of the term and much more. It usually happens a few months into the EC term, around December.
In a nutshell, it means about a week of highly intense and productive meetings in Mulhouse, nice IAPS stickers EVERYWHERE, accompanied by even nicer people but very bad weather, ending it all with a wholesome EC photo in IAPS t-shirts (no jackets on!), in -1 °C outdoors in front of the EPS building, questioning your life decisions – things we do for IAPS!

The bids for PLANCKS 2025 and ICPS 2025 are currently open. Can you summarise why people should bid to be the organisers of one of these events?

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. Both are very huge projects. The process takes two years, plus the aftermath. At the end of the day, it leaves you with a very valuable experience. The result of your work is something which people, as participants of the event, remember for a long time. On the surface, it is just a conference or a competition, but it’s actually a life-changing experience – I’m not exaggerating here. These are actual words we’ve received from participants. It’s that beautiful. You as an organiser of these events get a chance to gain and create awesome experiences for physics students around the world, and an amazing time for everyone.

The interview concluded with reminiscences of previous IAPS events.

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IAPS 2022-2023 jIAPS

jIAPS Creative Contest 2023 Runners Up

Michaelson Drawing Category

Supernova in the Sky by Anika Goel, University of Kansas

Indian-born artist and scientist, Anika Goel is a fourth year undergraduate senior at The University of Kansas, completing a double major in Visual Arts and Astronomy with a minor in Art History. Having a strong background in fine arts, Anika enjoys exploring the unseen colors of nature hidden behind the seen matter through a surrealist composition in their work. Being an astronomer, Anika also likes to portray their curiosity for the abstract essence of the universe in their multimedia works. 

My artworks are meant to be perceived by the subconscious. One of the ways I achieve this in my work is to highlight the colors found in nature and the universe. For a large majority of people, including myself, space is the ultimate escape, it is explored out of pure enjoyment and curiosity, and thus provides for an excellent all-encompassing medium to hold the weight of the complex human heart. It brings an element of surrealism to my artwork which ties it closer to being a dreamy complexity. 
Supernova in the Sky, 9in x 12 in, Collagraph on Paper is a piece of work that invites the viewers to learn and admire astronomical phenomena beyond the Earth. A supernova is a giant catastrophic explosion which destroys a star at the end of its massive life. An eruption so colossal that even a naked eye could spot one happening millions of miles away.  In the summer of 2022, I got the opportunity to intern for the Space telescope Science Institute and I worked on the spectroscopy of type 1bn supernova 2020nxt. This experience really brought out my admiration for these objects and since then I have been using them more often in my artworks.

Giovanna Truong, Yale University

Sabato Writing Category

Ethan Kimelheim, University of Delaware

We Make Time = We Make Space
‘How is it that a person can run out of space
Space we know is an endless place
Minkowski proposed that space and time are the same
And this theory of space-time reflects our cosmic domain
If the saying “we make time” has any traction
We cannot ignore a transitive action
So if we can make time, we can also make space
And thus, we cannot run out of space in this case’

Bhavya Pardasani, University of Illinois

Peek-a-boo

this is the story of my play date, 

a millennium long date  

it was a starry void  

(only you know if it was day/night)  

when i heard the final call

“it. moon you’re the keplerfully 

play date of it. earth.”  

i wanted to whine, deliver  

a few centuries short rant  

about our universal  

ancestors playing cupid with 

a nanosecond-old but your greenish 

blues had captured me from  

first sight 

my world’s been revolving  

around you since my embryo  

days. anyway i swirl  

anyway i twirl, my craterous  

eyes only have you  

in my north-south 

east-west sight.  

your children use me 

to serenade their lovers,  

and here i revolve  

elliptically in and out  

of your hindsight  

i have seen you wax,  

seen you wane,  

sometimes gibbous,  

sometimes crescent.  

but when you are new  

your beauty astounds me.  

(you might have donned  

the invisibility cloak  

but your children  

meander around like  

fireflies that crave  

my whole attention)  

then why am i known  

as the white orb full  

of craters, and a thief  

that shines brightly  

on your crush’s  

borrowed light?

despite my existence  

you have been having  

play dates with it.sun 

(who is an eight-timing  

bastard with no shade).  

i have been your loyal  

revolver since millenniums,  

then why is it.sun  

the center of your universe?  

why do i feel like the third  

ball in this elliptical love  

triangle? am i even good  

enough to be a hindrance  

in your play dates  

with your crush?  

Maybe i am meant  

to be the pasty white  

weirdo with big dark  

zits (i’m in my teenage,  

what did you expect?)  

who comes out at night  

to pervertedly say  

Peek-a-boo.  

Huygens Photos Category

Zhiwei Huang, University of Surrey

The photograph captures the beauty of sunflower oil droplets stabilised by Tween 20 in water. The striking contrast between the yellow and grey droplets is particularly eye-catching. The yellow droplets, which are sunflower oil dyed with beta-carotene, stand out against the background and add a vibrant pop of colour to the image. In contrast, the grey droplets are undyed sunflower oil, adding depth and interest to the composition. Overall, this image perfectly captures the technical aspect of the process and the beauty of the final product.

Schrödinger Category

Sophie Gresty, University of Liverpool

Lego art. Image of ATLAS event with 4 pileup vertices in 7 TeV collision made out of Lego, for wall art (65cm by 104cm).

Lydia Dixon, University of Surrey

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Misc.-Runner-up-Lydia-Dixon-University-of-Surrey-UK-ii-624x1024.jpg

Crochet blanket containing key words from Lydia’s placement year.

Categories
IAPS 2022-2023 jIAPS

jIAPS Creative Contest 2023 Winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s jIAPS Creative Contest. We received so many fantastic entries that the judges had a difficult decision choosing the winners. Some of the prizes to the jIAPS Creative Contest this year were generously provided by Prof. Jim Al-Khalili. You can see the winning entries below.

Michaelson Drawing Category

Darina Öö, King’s College London

Read the whole comic strip here.

Sabato Writing Category

Mackenzie Tigwell, McMaster University

Read the whole book here.

Huygens Photos Category

Jan (Jack) Beda, University of Edinburgh

Photograph taken on a phone with a polariser in front of the camera. Shows a set of scotch tape layered on top of one another and placed in front of a computer displaying a white background. The computer acts as the first polariser, the second polariser is in front of the camera. Black dots visible in the middle and top right of the image are pieces of my black table that got caught up in the tape when I was putting it together.

Find a video of the polarised light here.

Schrödinger Category

Darina Öö and Priyanka Jorge, King’s College London

Find the winning music video here.

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IAPS 2022-2023 jIAPS

jIAPS August Article of the Month – Searching for the Invisible: New Dark Matter Detector Unveiled

Author: Darina Öö, King’s College London, UK

With the capability to detect elusive dark matter particles, the newly developed detector, as tall as Big Ben, marks a potentially significant milestone in the search to understand the mysterious nature of the universe.


Dark matter is one of the biggest mysteries of the Universe. Astronomers have been trying to understand it for decades. They’ve figured out how many stars and how much gas there is by measuring the radiation they give off; but when they calculate the gravity of stars, galaxies, and galaxy clusters, the numbers just don’t add up. They’re too massive.


So, what’s wrong? Well, there are two ways to look at this. One is to say that there’s matter in the Universe that we can’t see with our telescopes (which is referred to as dark matter). The other is to change our understanding of gravity. Most experts choose the first option. And who can blame them?


Rewriting the laws of physics is no easy feat. Plus, every time scientists try to explain one observation with a new law of gravity, they end up contradicting another. So, the idea that there’s some invisible matter out there seems like the better choice.


Most astronomers assume the existence of dark matter. What does it consist of? Could it be objects common to the cosmos, too dim for our telescopes? Black holes, brown dwarfs, something like that… Undoubtedly, they also contribute to the invisible matter of the Universe; except that there is five times as much dark matter as ordinary matter (1).


We know something about the eras when the first atomic nuclei and atoms were formed; and based on this knowledge, there simply cannot be as many atomic nuclei in a cubic parsec today as the dark matter requires.
True, these calculations are not completely reliable. There are some rough edges there that you can grab if you want to. Astronomers do not dismiss the possibility that it is not dark matter that is fundamentally invisible, and that our telescopes are not sensitive enough.


But what if the preachers of cosmology are right, and dark matter does not consist of atoms or nuclei? Then we’d have to admit that it’s made up of some other particles.

Figure One: An artist’s illustration of different dark matter candidates (2).

Physicists have a number of candidates for this role, see Figure 1. In their attempts to go beyond the Standard Model, theorists have accumulated a whole zoo of particles that may exist, but they are not certain.


Imagine that space is literally swarming with invisible particles. They pass through our bodies in an endless, huge stream.
Why don’t we notice this? Because these particles almost never collide with atomic nuclei or electrons. And only very sensitive detectors, specially designed for this purpose, can register them.
Well, it might be that they are no longer science fiction…


The AION (The Atom Interferometric Observatory and Network) detector, see Figure 2, is designed to detect such dark matter candidates – ultra-light bosons with a sub-eV mass such as dilatons, moduli, relaxions, as well as axions (3-4).

Figure Two: Official logo of the AION project (5).



AION’s proposed solution is a next-generation atom interferometer that employs the superposition and interference of ultra-cold strontium atoms, the same used in state-of-the-art atomic clocks (4).
However, such particles interact weakly and for them to enter into such interaction with an atom, it must literally crash head-on into the atomic nucleus. This is an extremely unlikely event, but these are the very rare cases that AION is designed to catch.


According to the New York Times: “The best way to shift the odds, as well as seek out a wider range of potential particles, is to make the equipment bigger.” And AION takes this to a whole new level (6).
The first stage of the project is to build and commission a 10m detector and develop the technology for a 100m detector located in a mine shaft (4). Just imagine a detector the size of Big Ben underground! The ultimate objectives would be a full-scale terrestrial kilo-meter detector and a satellite-based detector (3).

1. Cooke, M. (no date) Doe explains…dark matter, Energy.gov. Department of Energy’s Office of Science . Available at: https://www.energy.gov/science/doe-explainsdark-matter (Accessed: April 17, 2023).

2. Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova. Four things you might not know about dark matter [Internet]. symmetry magazine. [cited 2023Mar7]. Available from: https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/december-2013/four-things-you-might-not-know-about-dark-matter

3. An Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) [Internet]. Aion @ imperial: Home. [cited 2023Mar7]. Available from: https://www.hep.ph.ic.ac.uk/AION-Project/


4. Badurina L, Bentine E, Blas D, Bongs K, Bortoletto D, Bowcock T, et al. IOPscience [Internet]. Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics. IOP Publishing; 2020 [cited 2023Mar7]. Available from: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1475-7516/2020/05/011
cernblind. CERN accelerating science [Internet].

5. The AION Logo | Drush Site-Install. 2022 [cited 2023Mar7]. Available from: https://aion-project.web.cern.ch/news/aion-logo

6. Whipple T. Scientists seek enlightenment in the deepest, Darkest mine [Internet]. The Times & The Sunday Times: breaking news & today’s latest headlines. The Times; 2022 [cited 2023Mar7]. Available from: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/scientists-seek-enlightenment-in-the-deepest-darkest-mine-9d9bz9bxt

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IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Mario Gaimann, the IAPS Treasurer

For the latest in the series of jIAPS Interviews, the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief interviewed the IAPS Treasurer. Mario is studying for a PhD at the University of Stuttgart and the International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS).

Interspersed with IAPS tales and discussions about the jIAPS Photo Competitions, Mario answered the following questions: 

Why did you decide to do a doctorate?

I chose to do a PhD because I wanted to dive deeply into an interdisciplinary scientific topic. My project is on physics-inspired machine learning; the method is called reservoir computing. It can be used to perform time-series prediction tasks, even for cases where a prediction is very difficult to make – for example for chaotic systems, like the Lorenz attractor. For an introduction, I recommend this article in Quanta Magazine. The core of my work is replacing a neural network reservoir with simulations of physical systems. This way, we can understand the learning system in physical terms, tune it, connect its physical characteristics with its learning behavior, and potentially construct novel devices for unconventional computing in the future.

I started by studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Physics at Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Then I studied for a Masters’s degree in Physics (with a focus on biophysics) at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. So I started by studying dead matter, then went on to studying living matter, and now I’m studying what makes matter “intelligent.”

What’s your favourite thing about IAPS?

Meeting people from different countries and cultures; going abroad and talking to new people… My IAPS addiction began in 2016, when I attended Lights of Tuscany and visited Pisa and Florence. I met physics students from Italy and other countries. I enjoyed being part of the community. That’s what I like about IAPS.

What are some of your IAPS memories?

When I was studying in the UK, I went to iaps4fusion, which was really cool. We visited the Culham Centre for Fusion and saw the tokamak. Then I attended ICPS in Turin, Italy – ICPS is cool and crazy! [Please ask Mario for his ICPS anecdotes, we’re not recording them here! – Editor] And bringing so many physics students to Munich, Germany through contributing to PLANCKS 2022 was truly amazing.

Why did you decide to apply to become IAPS Treasurer?

I have an interest in financing student events. It started with PLANCKS 2022 in Munich – Monique Honsa asked if I’d be interested in joining the organising team. I didn’t have much experience in finances then, though I’d co-organised some events, e.g. the DPG-Schülertagung (a national conference organized by physics students for high school students) in Germany in 2020. Through volunteering, I gained lots of experience: designing the budget, contacting sponsors, working in an international team, and learning about legal and fiscal details of association law in Germany and France.  

And when did I meet Cyrus [the current IAPS President – Editor] and how does that come into this story? Well, like me he was part of the committee which organised PLANCKS 2022. He was thinking of running for IAPS President and asked me if I’d consider joining the EC. Initially I wasn’t sure… I mean, it’s lots of work. In the end, I decided: let’s do it! 

For me, IAPS is not just some hobby. It’s about being professional and absolutely reliable, representing international physics students and always acting in the interest of our members. 

What can IAPS members request funding for, and how do they do this?

There are currently two grants available. First, you can apply for a grant to run an international event for IAPS members. At least 40% of the participants should be from a different country than the host country. IAPS can award grants of up to €1000, with the grant funding no more than half of the total budget. The international event can be anything from a summer school, to excursions, workshops or an iaps4x event: iaps4materials, iaps4fusion… You just have to present your budget, draft your programme and plan how many students you want to attend your event. 

You can find more details about how to apply here.

The other grant is for Outreach activities. For example, the School Day annual event, where you can receive funding to go into high schools and tell school children about physics, and do experiments; or the school children can visit your university. There’s also the International Day of Light, or you can come up with your own idea and receive funding for currently up to €300. 

I also encourage members to apply together with IAPS for an International Activity grant with the Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation (EYF), please contact me (or future IAPS treasurers) if you are interested.

What’s the strangest thing someone has requested money for?

As surprising as it may be, we’ve only received requests for solid, sensible things this year… All I can think of is that at PLANCKS 2023, someone came up to me and said that they’d heard that IAPS has the funds to pay for their private travel after PLANCKS had finished. I don’t know where they got the idea from, but I thought they seemed serious, though it sounded like a joke. Our budget is limited in IAPS and will only be spent in the interest of our members! I had to decline their request of course. 

[Editor – I also overheard conversations at PLANCKS with people asking IAPS Treasurer whether he could fund their dinner and drinks and other things, but let’s not go into that… ] 

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of joining IAPS?

Just do it! 

All you need to create IAPS events in your area are some physics friends, then you can form a local committee. You could organise small talks. In my local groups in NC Germany, we had events where you had a quiz-show style ‘answer questions against your professors’.

Be active, go to IAPS events! If there are no events, create events!

To get started you don’t need much; you just need motivated, engaged students, ideally with an international perspective. And of course you can also join IAPS as an individual.

What skills do you need to be the IAPS Treasurer?

Being IAPS Treasurer… What is takes a sense of responsibility. You have to be professional and have a true commitment to the role. It has happened in the past that a Treasurer has not been reliable and it has horrible consequences for the whole organisation; so I would say: if you do it, do it properly. 

It is quite some work, but there are so many benefits to being Treasurer of IAPS – you get to contact lots of people. You have some influence in shaping the spending of IAPS (within what has been approved at the AGM and in the end, the whole EC has to vote… but your opinion matters. If you say ‘no, we don’t have the budget’, people will listen to you). 

You get to go to some cool meetings – for example, I recently attended the Mid-Term Meeting 2023 of the International Science Council in Paris and got to meet representatives of so many international associations. You get to represent IAPS and have a lot of fun. I focused on potential partners who could support IAPS and on connecting with organizations in the Asia-Pacific region to make the ICPS 2023 in the Philippines more known. But I also met people from international associations I had never heard of: the International Union For Quaternary Research, which is about studying the ice age, the International Union of Speleology, an international body for caving… People you’d never meet, you can meet through IAPS. 

Any last words?

IAPS has a great network – you have friends in the whole world. If you need help applying for an internship or a placement, you can ask on the IAPS Discord and people answer you and provide support. The benefits are infinite! 

For only €10 a year, you can become a full member – join IAPS now! [You can check whether your country has a national or local committee on the IAPS website, and you can  join the IAPS Discord for free – Editor] 

Categories
IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

Interview with Zlatan Vasović (IAPS Fundraising Manager and Archivist)

The current jIAPS Editor-in-Chief has been interviewing IAPS EC members. Now it is the time for two Editor-in-Chiefs to interview each other. Zlatan Vasović was the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief last year in 2021–22, as well as the IAPS IT Manager. He is now the IAPS Fundraising Manager and the Archivist (and spoiler alert, he is hoping to apply for a position to continue in IAPS next year).

 jIAPS is currently looking for next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Could it be you? Email us at jiaps@iaps.info for more information on how to apply. 

What do you consider to be the most important aspects of IAPS?

What makes IAPS unique is that it is truly international. Through IAPS events, like ICPS and PLANCKS, you can meet people from the whole world. One aspect is less known and harder to access: becoming an IAPS volunteer, by joining a working group, the EC (Executive Committee) or jIAPS [Especially jIAPS; that of course is the most important aspect to IAPS – Editor].

What is the most challenging thing about being the past Editor-in-Chief?

Answering the questions from the current Editor-in-Chief, especially when she messages me every day and when I don’t know what to expect from the questions. I take it as a challenge and I love to see how jIAPS is developing.

I know you are always on the IAPS Discord, messaging people. How many IAPS members have you messaged in the last 24 hours?

About 20… but that includes people from NC Serbia and the EC. It was a busy day though. 

What do all past jIAPS Editor-in-Chiefs have in common?

One common trait is that they have a lot of interests – they are quite curious, versatile and multi-skilled. They can do a lot of things and be successful in all of them.

 What has jIAPS done this year that you would have done differently?

Everything!

Actually, I’m not dissatisfied with anything in jIAPS. There are two main things I would have done differently: I would have pushed for a separate jIAPS website, like a real news site [For context, the plans for this have been ongoing for  while and haven’t reached completion yet, and it doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon – the IT Working Group has lots to do]. 

The second would be more online meetings. I am just addicted to online meetings, so I would’ve run them more often, like every two weeks. [What’s the record we are on now? Is it a grand total of three meetings since last August? – Editor]

What is your advice for anyone who is interested in applying to join the EC?

Go through the website, read the information about the roles there. Read the reports from people who have previously held the position [These are on the IAPS Cloud. If you don’t know where to find this, just email jiaps@iaps.info – Editor]. Reach out to the current EC members – the most recent source of information is the person who is currently in that position. And don’t forget the internet – just google around and find more information about what that role is supposed to do in general.

[What a technical answer… definitely an answer from an Archivist – Editor.]

You recently attended the finals of PLANCKS in Milan. What was your most memorable moment from this IAPS event?

The culinary exercises while everyone else was doing theoretical exercises – as the observers at PLANCKS, we had to prepare lunch for the competitors. It was a nice way to bond and connect with the other observers. We were split into teams preparing different kinds of food. I enjoyed organizing my team in the most efficient way possible, to finish our task first. It was a fun experience – food connects people.

What non-IAPS and non-physics activities do you do in your free time?

None. I don’t have any free time… okay, alright. My true hobby is socializing with people. Sometimes it’s mixed with work, but I just enjoy meeting new people.

I am a big fan of movies: not the mass produced ones, but high quality ones. Besides that, I like searching for random things on the internet and learning new things every day. [Other hobbies Zlatan has includes annoying Editor-in-Chiefs on a daily basis and lurking on the IAPS Discord waiting for new messages to be posted – Editor.]

Which movies do you most enjoy watching?

A lot of them, actually. Some of them are classic films, like Casablanca and the Godfather; then others are less well known, but still high quality, like some Serbian and Yugoslav movies. Then there are some films which are in many ways bad but still have something interesting or unique about them. Need movie recommendations? Message me on Discord!

Was there anything during your time as jIAPS Editor-in-Chief which didn’t work?

There were things we started doing and never finished, or planned to do and never did. It shows that throughout the year, you have to reassess your priorities. 

For example, we were slow to set up the online edition of jIAPS, only publishing one or two articles on the website… but that works well this year. We also thought about sponsors. To be financially sustainable, jIAPS could have advertisements. But that didn’t work out, not yet.

What is your favourite part of your role as IAPS Archivist? 

No one sees me. I can just hide in the archives, and it’s a refreshing change from the other roles I’ve had in IAPS. The most interesting part is that you get access to all the records of IAPS and can find out what happened in every year since IAPS started. It’s a great power and you have to use it carefully.

How do you overcome challenges in IAPS?

It’s not much different from the other challenges in life. I learn about the challenge, get more knowledge and skills, and then I can overcome it. Just like in your studies, you can learn more advanced topics from the current year, which in the previous year would have been a challenge. Now you can overcome that challenge.

 By this stage, Zlatan was starving and wanted to go and have dinner, by don’t worry, all is not over – this article only includes half of the interview. The other half, with Zlatan as the interviewer, is yet to come.