University of Bayreuth, Presse release No. 023/2023 - 7 March 2023
German Physics Championship: Silver medal for students from SFZ of the University of Bayreuth
Two students from the TAO High School Students Research Centre (SFZ) at the University of Bayreuth have won a silver medal at the German Young Physicists' Tournament (GYPT). Tarek Becic from the Frankenwald Gymnasium in Kronach and Luan Janal from the Graf-Münster Gymnasium in Bayreuth convinced the jury with a project on self-organization and pattern formation in nature. Prof. Dr. Walter Zimmermann from the University of Bayreuth had supervised their research work at the SFZ. The final round of the competition took place at the Physics Center of the German Physical Society (DPG) in Bad Honnef on 4-5 March, 2023. A team from Berlin also received silver, while the gold medal went to Lörrach.
"The German Physics Championship GYPT is similar to an international science conference. The students present their research findings in English. Afterwards, they have to face critical questions posed to them by the competing teams and by a top-class jury. Since 2018, students from the Bayreuth SFZ have made it to the GYPT finals every year," says Prof. Dr. Walter Zimmermann, coordinator of the High School Students Research Centre at the University of Bayreuth, which is affiliated to the Technology Alliance of Upper Franconia (TAO).
At the award ceremony, the vice president of the German Physical Society (DPG), Dr. Lutz Schröter, and the head of the German Physics Championship, Michael Steck, emphasized how great it was that the young people were finally able to meet in person again after the pandemic and exchange information about their very impressive research results. The three winning teams were awarded science books. In addition, they will participate in an exclusive guided tour of CERN in Geneva for two days at the invitation of the DPG. CERN is the world's largest particle accelerator facility.
The next stage of the competition is now the participation of the top German high school students in the IYPT, the International Young Physicists' Tournament. The five-member national team from Germany will be put together at the beginning of April following a workshop in Ulm. Among the twelve workshop participants is Tarek Becic from Frankenwald-Gymnasium in Kronach, who was already a member of the national team last year. "The SFZ at the University of Bayreuth is the only student research centre in Germany that has been able to nominate members of the German national team in uninterrupted succession since 2014," says Zimmermann, adding, "Winning a silver medal this year is yet another confirmation of our support for young researchers and the good study atmosphere at the High School Student Research Centre in Bayreuth. This success would not have been possible without the support of the teachers in the schools and without the great commitment of our training team on the Bayreuth campus: Berin Becic, Frederik Gareis, Sebastian Friedl and Linda Thumfart, who were previously successful themselves in national and international physics competitions, did an excellent job of preparing and motivating this year's team members at the SFZ."
"By far the most important reason for GYPT participation is the students' desire to meet other young people who are equally enthusiastic about research, to spend time together and to compete against each other. This basic attitude is a very good basis for the future generation of researchers, which cannot be encouraged enough. Future research successes in our country depend precisely on this ambitious young generation," Zimmermann emphasizes. In this context, the Bayreuth physicist and SFZ coordinator refers to the high-caliber, international talent promotion provided by the German Physical Society and the Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation.
The research project of the Bayreuth silver team
The Bayreuth runners-up studied waves that form on the surface of a liquid in a bowl when it is shaken vertically. They analyzed a new variant of these waves named after the English physicist Michael Faraday: First, a viscous liquid is filled into a bowl. Then, a larger drop of a thinner and lighter liquid is placed on its surface. The two liquids do not mix, so that the drop assumes a circular shape. If the bowl is now shaken vertically on a shaker, stripe patterns form on the surface of the drop – in accordance with known principles of self-organization. The spectacular result is that the stripe pattern deforms the circular drop into an ellipse. The strength of the deformation can be controlled by the shaking strength of the shaker. The stripe pattern on the drop thus helps to determine by its amplitude the shape of the drop on which it exists. This phenomenon is also a topic of recent publications in leading scientific journals and of far-reaching importance in animate nature.