The 2018 Explorer Competition
has completed. We thank all participants and wish good luck to all teams! Judging will take place in late December.
2017 Explorer Competition
Physics Unlimited's inaugural team-based Explorer Competition
took place in November/December 2017.
If you are a competitor who participated and wish to receive your certificate or prize, please read the bottom section of this page carefully.
Competitors were given one to two weeks to submit their solutions to one or both independent parts of the inaugural assignment. The two research-based topics were (1) Tidal Heating and (2) Relativistic Electrodynamics.
The assignment can be viewed as a PDF document here
We received a total of 82
submissions (!) from teams located in over a dozen countries (counting each team's work on one of the two optional topics as a separate submission). Each team was comprised of up to a total of 6 high school students. The quality of work done by many teams was exceptionally high. Several teams submitted reports that could very likely be published as papers in a scientific journal. The number of pages in many submissions, often typed in LaTeX, exceeded 20-30.
To summarize, the judges were very pleasantly surprised by the level of skills shown here, and we are confident that most participants, whether or not they were awarded a prize, will find success in their future academic careers.
Total scores were tallied by adding the points received by teams on each subsection; a detailed breakdown of the points is available in this
three-sheet Excel document.
Lists of teams ranked by the total number of points* received on each of the two parts, including their respective awards, if any, are available in the following two PDF files:
*Please note that all teams listed above the bold red line in these documents have been recognized with Honorable Mention. The team rankings have been updated in February 2018 to account for tied scores. Original versions of team results can be found here
(relativistic electrodynamics) and here
Kinds of prizes
Please note that in addition to the conventional gold, silver, and bronze team medalist awards, the Top-10 certificates for each part, and the honorable mention certificates, there are also two subjective awards for each part: the most elegant solution and the most creative solution.
These certificates will be given to teams judged to have used a particularly interesting, unique, or compact solution on one of the problems. Recipients of both of these types of awards are also listed in these files.
Necessary steps in order to receive the prizes
If you are the manager of a team who has been recognized with one of the listed prizes/certificates (are listed above the bold red line in the .pdf document or received one of the two types of subjective awards), we request
you to please e-mail us at email@example.com the following information, with the subject line "2017 Explorer Competition: Team Info":
As of February 28, 2018, we still have not heard from several teams.
- The full names of your team members who contributed to the submission. We will double-check this with our records, but our goal is to make sure we list all members of your team exactly as you wish them to be listed on the corresponding certificate!
- A statement on whether or not you would like us to host your team members' names on our website in perpetuity as publicly available information, associated with your team name (alternatively, you may choose to remain publicly anonymous).
- (Optional) Your team photo as an attached file, along with a statement on whether or not you would like us to host it on our website in perpetuity as publicly available information, associated with your team name (alternatively, you may choose to let us make your team photo, if you send one in, accessible only to you through the profile section).
- The answer to the following question: "Would you like us to upload your original submission onto our website, to be publicly accessible from the following future directory: physicsu.org/explorer/2017/[your-team-name].pdf?"
- If and only if your team has been highlighted in either the gold, silver, or bronze color in the above documents: please list your full postal mailing address where you would like the physical team award to be sent.
We anticipate mailing out and e-mailing the respective awards or certificates in March 2018, after
receiving the above preferences from all recognized teams. Thank you for your cooperation.
We hope you have both enjoyed and were challenged by the Explorer Competition, and we encourage you to participate in our other recurring events, such as the academically rewarding PhysiKarma
initiative. Finally, we would like to extend huge thanks to this year's judges, Robert-Iulian Raveanu
and Malin Stanescu
, for their tireless efforts in grading all of your works.
Best of luck in your academic pursuits!
Physics Unlimited Organizers