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IYPT 2007 in Seoul, Korea

by Florian Andritsch

Preparation for the Competition

Kathi and her well packaged scientific equipment Kathi and her well packaged "scientific equipment"

This year's preparation was again held in Vienna at the Institute of Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna. The team and the "IYPT-veterans" Tim Hell, Georg Hofferek and Ulrike Regner conducted various experiments and, with the help of Ass.Prof. Dr. Heinz Kabelka, Mag. Christa Deinlein and Dr. Heribert Tilgner, developed interesting theories to explain the observed phenomena.

During two long weekends a fluid lens system was developed, ink droplets learned to swim, it was investigated how razor blades react to an external electric field and mud 2007++ was invented to help the team understand the properties of non newtonian fluids.

After the second meeting and as soon as all "scientific equipment" was packed the long journey to Korea started.


Outward Journey (July 03rd - July 04th)

On July 3rdwe heavily loaded made our way to the Vienna International Airport. At 3:30 pm our plane to Dubai took off. After four hours of transfer time in Dubai we boarded our connection flight to Seoul. We used that spare time to drink some coffee and enjoy the flair. Both flights were without any turbulence and very comfortable.

 On the flight to Seoul (Himalaye region) On the flight to Seoul (Himalaye region)

After 20 hours we touched town in Seoul where it was already 7pm because of the 7 hours time difference. A person with a big "AUSTRIA" sign was waiting for us. It was Woo "Phoebe" Rim our Korean guide. We had to wait for the Brazilian team so we used the time before we could go to the hotel to take a picture of the Austrian delegation with our guide.

The Austrian Delegation upon arrival in Seoul The Austrian Delegation upon arrival in Seoul

When we arrived at the hotel it was already 10pm, so we had dinner and after that went to our rooms. Everyone got a backpack with an 2GB USB stick, an umbrella, a fan and a pen inside as a present. All that had of course the IYPT logo on it.

We went to bed at midnight, which turned out to be the usual time we went to bed the following days.


The First Day – Opening Ceremony – 05th of July 2007

For the first day a tour through Kyungwon University and the Opening Ceremony were scheduled. In the evening we were welcomed by a well organized "Welcome Party". On the tour we saw some of Korea's leading nano technology research. We also learned to appreciate the air conditioning technology, since temperatures around 30° Celsius and very high air humidity made long periods outside a torture. On top of that having to wear a suit most of the time didn't really help to make the heat more bearable.

Korean Fan Dance at the Opening Ceremony Korean Fan Dance at the Opening Ceremony

After lunch at the university canteen we saw a marvelous performance of a traditional Korean dance. The university students danced to rhythms played on traditional Korean drums.

Then we continued to the great hall where the opening ceremony was held. First some important people held a couple of speeches and then we got a really good insight into Korean culture, dance and music. There was a spectacular Taekwondo performance followed by a very beautiful fan dance. Between those the order in which the teams would compete against each other in the Physics-Fights was drawn.

Welcome Dinner Welcome Dinner
Flags along the motorway Flags along the motorway

The Welcome Party in the evening was actually a gala dinner with live music. We were also astonished to see that there were giant banners welcoming us to the IYPT everywhere and even all flags of all participating countries were fixed to the light poles on the motorway.


First Fight - Olympic Park Tour - 06th of July 2007

Kathi and Thomas at the Fight Kathi and Thomas at the Fight

The next day the first Selective Fight was scheduled to take place. We were in one group with Slovakia and Korea. Luckily we were only Reviewer in the first Stage, so we could observe how well the other teams were prepared, compared to us.

In the Olympic Park In the Olympic Park

Later on we visited the nearby "Olympic Park", a big park which had been created in 1988, when the Olympic Games were held in Seoul. A big spot of green, in the center of a huge city (Seoul has approx. 15 million inhabitants).

Again we got the impression that guests are always welcome in Korea, when a friendly walker approached us and talked to us. ("Are your hearts clear of all sins?")

In the evening we discussed our performance in the first Fight and prepared for the next day.


Second and Third Fight - Concert - 07th of July 2007

Thomas as Opponent in a Fight Thomas as Opponent in a Fight

The next day began with quite a success, when we won a Fight against the teams from Australia (which later on won the overall competition) and from Czech Republic. On this day, however, two Fights had been scheduled and therefore we had to go back to the Fight Rooms after lunch. The teams which we met in the afternoon were Brazil and Cyprus. Again, we were able to win this round.

After these Fights we had dinner. But before we went back to the hotel, we had the opportunity of listening to a classical concert performance. We heard a mixture of Mozart, Beethoven and Korean composers.

Afterwards, back at the hotel, we used the last hours of the day to prepare for the next Fight, and to discuss our perfomance of that day. Since we had won both groups we were in we were quite content with our accomplishments.


Fourth Fight - National Museum - Han River Cruise - 08th of July 2007

Han River Cruise Han River Cruise

Morning was quite the same every day; at 06:30am the phone rang. Phoebe, our guide, was supposed to wake us up. A job, which she fulfilled very reliably. Then just a quick shower and breakfast, because at 07:45am the busses to the university, where the competition was held, were supposed to depart.

In the fourth Physics Fight we met again a Korean team and the team from the United States. As expected, it turned out to be a challenging Fight, since both teams were ahead of us, in the intermediate ranking.

In the afternoon we visited the Korean National Museum. In this huge building the history of Korea is documented from the earliest times.

Dinner was another highlight of that day, because it took place on a ship, cruising on the Han River. We had a very interesting view of Seoul, which was very spectacular, even after sunset. We saw a lot of illuminated bridges and a lot of very high buildings.

After we had returned to the hotel, we made preparations for the following Fight, one last time. Reaching the Finals seemed already impossible at that time. But that did not mean that we put less effort in preparing our Opponence. We had a clear goal: We wanted to beat Switzerland, because they were just a few points ahead of us.


Fitfh Fight - Gyeongbokgung Palace - 09th of July 2007

We were well prepared when we left the hotel that morning. In the last Selective Physics Fight we met the teams of the Netherlands, Switzerland and Nigeria. The Fight turned out to be a success for us. Once more, we were able to win the group.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Gyeongbokgung Palace
The team imitates the Royal ceremony by carrying Kathi around The team imitates the Royal ceremony by carrying Kathi around

We spent the afternoon of that day visiting the Royal Palace of the old times. For demonstration purposes some people in costumes performed some sort of Royal Ceremony. The "King" was escorted by many guards from one building of the palace complex to another one.

We had some special plans for the evening. Our team wanted to meet the Swiss team for a very special and private "Fight". We wanted to exchange some of our presentations and then each team was supposed to present a solution of the other team. Of course there was also an Opponent and a Jury. We had lots of fun with this very special Fight.


Samsung Electronics - Folk Village - 10th of July 2007

A house in the Folk Village A house in the Folk Village

Since there were no more fights the next day was reserved for sightseeing. In the morning we went to visit one of the headquaters of Samsung Electronics. We were able to see the development of all the division fo the electronic industry. Furthermore we could have a look at many products, ranging from memory chips, over plasma TV sets with 2.5m screen size, mobile phones with 10 megapixel cameras and zoom lens to MP3 players with integrated speakers. (Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photographs during our visit.) In the end we got a 2GB USB memory stick as a present.

Thomas experiments with a see-saw Thomas experiments with a see-saw

After lunch in the Samsung cafeteria we went to the so-called "Folk Village". A traditional Korean village, which had been reconstructed in the middle of Seoul. We learned how the people used to live in the old times, which plants they grew and which animals they domesticated. Furthermore we encountered a very special plaything: A see-saw with which two persons can catapult each other up in the air. Especially Thomas and Florian were fascinated by the scientific principle and performed a lot of personal experiments. After we had a typical Korean dinner (beef with rice and bean sprouts) we went back to the hotel.

Thomas learns Phoebe how to dance Waltz Thomas learns Phoebe how to dance Waltz

Since each team had been asked to do some sort of "cultural performance" at the Farewell Party at the end of the tournament, and we had decided to dance Waltz on stage, it was time to start practizing for that. Especially since we had asked our guide Phoebe to join us for the performance. So now we had to learn her how to dance Waltz within two days. (She turned out to learn very quickly and performed very well in the end.)


Finals - Closing Ceremony - Farewell Party - 11th of July 2007

Time went by fast. Before we knew it, it was already July 11th and the Finals were supposed to take place. So after breakfast we went to the great hall of the university where the teams of Australia, New Zealand and Korea (2) prepared for their final performance on stage.

It was a strange feeling, watching a Fight from the audience point of view, without being able to contribute. After the third Stage we quickly calculated the scores from the jurors grades and concluded that the Australien team had won. But of course before congratulations were in order we had to wait for the official results at the Closing Ceremony.

The Austrian Team after the Closing Ceremony The Austrian Team after the Closing Ceremony

The ceremony took place after lunch. Again it was a very celebratory atmosphere. First the teams which had achieved honourable mention were asked to the stage. After that there was a performance of a famous Korean musician. Then we were called to the stage to receive our bronze medals. As an additional prize we received an MP3 player and of course also a certificate.

After another musicial intermission the teams from the Finals were called to the stage. New Zealand and Korea (2) both had won a silver medal. So we knew tht Australia was the champion and winner of the competition. The vice-champions received a digital camera as a prize.

The Australian Team at the Closing Ceremony The Australian Team at the Closing Ceremony

When the Australian team was presented their gold medals the audience was giving lots of applause and also standing ovations. The first prize was a laptop for each team member. After that Gunnar Tibell, President of the IYPT, officially declared the 20th IYPT closed.

In the evening the Farewell Party and the "cultural performances" took place. It was a very interesting evening with lots of interesting performances. At the end there was a special performance of the famous B-Boys, a Korean breakdance group. We spent the night celebrating with the other teams, throughout the hotel.


Last Day - 12th of July 2007

The 63Building 63Building

12th of July was departure day for most of the teams. Our flight was scheduled to depart from Incheon Airport at 11:55pm, so we had the whole day for additional sightseeing in Seoul. Our guide lead us to the 63building, one of the highest buildings in Seoul, from which we had a spectacular view of the city.

In the afternoon we went to a shopping street, to fulfill the whishes of our female fraction. The day went by faster than we expected and soon we had to go for the airport, from where we were about to leave Korea. After we checked in without any troubles we had to say Goodbye to our guide Phoebe, of who we really had become fond of during our visit.

Shopping Shopping

Shortly after that we were already aboard the airplane, back on the way to Dubai, where we had to wait 5 hours for our connection to Vienna. We used that time to exchange all the photos we had made during the week and to walk around the airport.

At 13:13 (local time) on Friday the 13th of July we safely landed in Vienna. There we seperated and each of us took the last part of the journey on his own, back to Vienna, Graz, Salzburg and Trofaiach.


We have kept a lot of good memories of Korea and of the competition. The IYPT exceeded our expectations and with a lot of new friends and a great success we close the chapter "20th IYPT Seoul/Korea". May it be followed by an equally great and successfull 21st IYPT!


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