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Competition Physics Cup IPhO2012

Eligibility: age- and educational restrictions for the participants are the same as for IPhO-2012. Registration: please send e-mail to AC.IPhO2012@gmail.com, indicating: 1. Your given name; 2. Family name; 3. Date of birth; 4. E-mail address; 5. Full mailing address; 6. Your school; 7. Your physics teacher It is recommended to register as soon as possible, prior to the publication of the first problem (18. Sept. 2011). However, you can also register at any later stage. Distribution of problems: At 2 pm (GMT) of the third Sunday of each month, between September 2011 and June 2012, a new problem is published at the homepage of 43rd IPhO (www.ipho2012.ee) and also sent by e-mail to all the registered participants. Submitting the solutions: The contestants are asked to submit the answer as fast as they can, but not later than the publication time of the next problem. The formulae can be submitted using the LaTeX symbols; these can be included directly into the e-mail text (e.g. m=m_0/\sqrt{1-

v^2/c^2}). Alternatively, these can be also submitted as formulae in OpenOffice or MSWord files,
or scanned (digitally photographed)images of a clear handwritten text. Also, the students are asked to send their solutions (using one of the above mentioned formats), but this can be done with a delay of up to 48 hours (from the moment of submitting the answer). These solutions should contain as few text (in English) as possible (few words are typically enough), mostly using formulae and figures. When sending solutions, please use the subject line "Problem No 1" ("Problem No 2", etc), exactly as written here (but without quotation marks); in that case you will receive an auto-reply confirming that your solution has been received. If you do not want to receive an auto-reply, make sure the subject line does not contain (not necessarily begin with) the text "Problem No 1" (for instance just drop "No" and write "Problem 1"). Grading: Each problem costs 1.0 pts; this serves as a base score, which will be multiplied with factors corresponding to bonuses and penalties. Either a full or zero credit is given; on a weekly basis (for the first three weeks on Sunday, for the fourth week on Thursday), the competitors are notified if their solutions are (a) complete, (b) incomplete (e.g. some missing motivations), (c) with minor mistakes, or (d) incorrect. Cases (b)-(c) incur a penalty factor of 0.9 and the case (d) 0.8. The students can send the corrected solutions either upon finding an error or receiving the notification of incompleteness; each revision incurs a penalty factor of 0.9. The first 10 correct answers (supplemented later with a complete solution) receive a bonus factor according to the

formula k = 1.111-n, where n is the order number. The best solution will receive a bonus factor of e (=2.718) and will be published as the official solution at the web page. If there is no single solution, which is better than the others, the factor e may be distributed over several solutions of similar quality in such a way that the product of all the factors equals still to e. If, in addition to the best solutions, there are other good solutions which (due to certain reasons, eg. the usage of a significantly different approach) deserve publishing, these published alternative solutions will receive a bonus factor of 1.1. There is also an additional rule for those who send many incorrect solutions before finding a correct one: if the product of penalty factors with the speed bonus factors gives a number which is smaller than e-2/3, the factor e-2/3 is used, instead. Example: a student submits an answer, discovers an error and therefore submits a revised answer (k1 = 0.9), together with the solution; upon being notified that the solution has still a minor mistake (k2 = 0.9), he submits a third revision (k3 = 0.9) of the answer and the solution. This solution turns out to be the fifth correct solution, so k4 = 1.16; later on, it is found that this is the best solution which will be published at the web-page (k5 = e). Thus, the overall score will be 0.931.16e = 4.673 Publication of results: The names and results of half of the students with best scores are published at the web-page; the list is updated monthly. Distribution of awards: The awards are announced and handed over at the closing ceremony of the 43rdIPhO or sent to the mailing address (if the recipient is not present at the ceremony). In your solutions what you may assume well-known and what not: things which are not in theformula sheet need to be motivated/derived. (You don't need to check your typical high-school formulae are there.) Questions regarding the competition: e-mail to AC.IPhO2012@gmail.com. See also: Frequently asked questions. Problem No 0 you will not receive points for this, but you can submit your answer and let us know how long time did it take for you to solve it.

Physics solvers mosaic http://www.ipho2012.ee/physicscup/physics-solvers-mosaic/

What is needed to be able to solve problems so well that you could get a gold medal at IPhO? Is it enough to be just very gifted? Of course not, there are other students, who have solved a lot of problems while you are thinking hard trying to "invent a bicycle", they are already writing the solution, because they had solved a similar problem earlier. Is it enough to solve a lot of problems and read a lot of problem solutions?Most often, no. Just solving or reading solutions, of course, will increase your technical skills, but you also need to think over, what were the main ideas which made it possible to solve the problem, and take these ideas into your permanent arsenal; if you solve too

many problems, you don't have time to think over. Is it possible to learn "the art of problem solving" and if yes then how? Well, 99% of the Olympiad problems are solved using a rather limited set of ideas (for mathematics, that set is somewhat larger). So, if you acquire those ideas well enough so that you can recognize them even if they are carefully hidden then the IPhO gold will be yours! Do not worry, no-one expects you to discover a solving technique which has been never seen before, because that would be an achievement worth of a Nobel Prize! Since we started the topic of Nobel Prize is it enough to be the absolute winner of the IPhO to get, at a later stage, a Nobel Prize? (Each year, there is one Nobel Prize in physics similarly to the absolute winner of IPhO.) Of course, it is not; however, you'll have better chances than anyone else. Becoming a great physicist requires several components, one of which is having brilliant problem solving skills (tested at IPhO). Another one is ability to make solvable models - formulate problems which can be solved and which reflect important aspects of reality. Third component is ability to distinguish, which problems are important and which are not. You can be very skilful and smart, but if you study problems of marginal interest, no-one will pay attention to your research results. Finally, you need a considerable amount of luck. Indeed, that particular field of physics in which you start your studies, eg. start making your PhD thesis, depends on somewhat random decisions it is almost impossible to foresee, where are the biggest scientific challenges after five or ten years. Also, in order to perfect yourself in regard of the above-mentioned three components, you need excellent supervisors and excellent lab; although you have some freedom in choosing your supervisor and lab, you still need to be very lucky to find outstanding ones! I coined to name this section as "mosaic", because we shall describe here a set of solving techniques, fragments of the whole arsenal needed for a perfect problem solver. With a large number of pieces, the picture would become recognizable, but we need to start making it piece by piece While some "tiles" will be useful for solving a spectrum of problems, other tiles are aimed to give more insight into certain physical concepts. Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

Tile 1: minimum or maximum?

It is well-known that a system is stable at the minimum of its potential energy. But why? Why is a minimum different from a maximum? For Fermat' principle it is clear: there is no longest optical path between two points the ray could just go "zig-zag" -, but there is definitely one which is the shortest! The reason is simple at an equilibrium state, the kinetic energy has always minimum (as long as masses are positive). What we actually do need for a stability is a conditional extremum of one conserved quantity (such as the net energy), under the assumption that the other conserved quantities are kept constant (unconditional extremum is OK, too). Consider the motion of a body

along x-axis and let us describe it on the phase plane, with coordinates x and p (the momentum). The overall energy is E =U(x)+p2/2m. Now, if we depict this energy as a surface in 3-dimensional space with coordinates x, p and E, the point describing the state of the system will move along the intersection line of that surface with a horizontal plane E=Const. At the minimum of U(x), with p=0, this intersection line would be just a single point, because this is the lowest point of that surface. The near-by trajectories will be obtained if we ascend the horizontal plane a little, E =Emin+e, so that it no longer just touches the surface, but cuts a tiny ellips from it. All the points of that trajectory (the ellips) are close to the equilibrium point, so the sate is, indeed, stable. It appears that a system can be stable also because of a conditional maximum of the net energy: while an unconditional extremum of the kinetic energy can only be a minimum, things are different for conditional extrema. Perhaps the simplest example is the rotation of a rigid body. Let us consider a rectangular brick with length a, width b, and thickness c (a>b>c). Let Ic be its moment of inertia for the axis passing its centre of mass and perpendicular to the (a,b)-plane; Ib and Ia are defined in a similar way. For a generic case, the moment of inertia I will depend on the orientation of the rotation axis, but it is quite clear that Ic >= I >= Ia (it can be shown easily once you learn how to use tensor calculations). Now, let us throw the brick rotating into air and study the motion in a frame which moves together with the centre of mass of the brick (in that frame, we can ignore gravity). There are two conserved quantities: angular momentum L, and rotation energy K=L2/2I . We see that for a fixed L, the system has minimal energy for I = Ic (axis is parallel to the shortest edge of the brick), and maximal energy for I = Ia (axis is parallel to the longest edge of the brick). You can easily check experimentally that both ways of rotation are, indeed, stable! Not so for the axis parallel to the third edge This phenomenon is demonstrated in a video made by NASA on the International Space Station. Well, actually the rotation with the minimal energy is still a little bit more stable than that of with the maximal energy; the reason is in dissipation. If we try to represent the motion of the system in the phase space (as described above), we would start with touching a top of an hill with a horizontal plane E =Emax (so that the intersection is just a point), but due to dissipation, the energy will decrease, E =Emin e, and the phase trajectory would be a slowly winding-out spiral. So, while you are probably used to know that dissipation draws a system towards a stable state, here it is vice versa, it draws the system away from the stable state! Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

2. Fast or slow?
What is an adiabatic process? Most of the readers would probably answer that this is a process with a gas which is so fast that there is no heat exchange with the surroundings. However, this is only a half of the truth, and actually the less important half. In fact, it is quite easy to understand that this is not entirely correct: consider a cylinder, which is divided by a thin wall into two halves; one half is filled with a gas at a pressure p, and the other one is empty. Now, let us remove momentarily the wall: the gas from one half fills the entire cylinder. Since no external work is done (the wall can be removed

without performing a work), the energy of the gas is preserved, hence, the temperature remains the same as it was at the beginning. Meanwhile, for an adiabatic process we would expect a decrease of temperature by a factor of 2 -1: part of the internal energy is supposed to be spent on a mechanical work performed by the expanding gas. However, if the piston moves faster than the speed of sound, the gas will be unable to catch up and push the piston. So, the adiabatic law was not followed because the process was too fast! It appears that the adiabatic law for thermodynamics has also a counterpart in classical mechanics the conservation of the adiabatic invariant. For mechanical systems (oscillators) performing periodic motion, the adiabatic invariant is defined as the area of the closed curve drawn by the system in phase space(which is a graph where the momentum p is plotted as a function of the respective coordinate x), and is (approximately) conserved when the parameters of the system are changed adiabatically, ie. slowly as compared with the oscillation frequency. For typical applications, the accuracy of the conservation of the adiabatic invariant is exponentially good and can be estimated as e-f , where f is the eigenfrequency of the oscillator, and is the characteristic period of the variation of the system parameters. How are related to each other (a) adiabatic invariant and (b) adiabatic process with a gas? The easiest way to understand this is to consider a one-dimensional motion of a molecule between two walls, which depart slowly from each other (Figure 1). Let us use the system of reference where one of the walls is at rest, and the other moves with a velocity u << v, where v is the velocity of the molecule (the interaction of the molecule with the walls is assumed to be absolutely elastic). One can say that such a molecule represents an oscillator with a slowly changing potential: the potential energy U(x) = 0 for 0<x< X (where X = a +ut)and otherwise, U(x) = . The trajectory of the molecule in the phase space is a rectangle of side lengths Xand 2mv. So, the adiabatic invariant is 2mvX; hence, vX = Const. For a one-dimensional gas, the distance Xbetween the walls plays the role of the volume V, and mv2/2=kT/2, hence v ~ T1/2 (here "~" means is proportional to). So, the adiabatic invariant can be written as V 2T = Const. On the other hand, from the adiabatic law for an ideal gas, we would expect TV -1 = Const. For the one-dimensional gas, the number of the degrees of freedom i = 1, hence = cp/cV = (i+2)/i =3, and TV2 = Const, ie. we can conclude that the adiabatic invariant and the adiabatic gas law give us exactly the same result!

How to prove that for an adiabatic forcing of an oscillator, the adiabatic invariant is conserved? Well, this is not a too simple mathematical task and thus we skip the proof here (it can be found in good textbooks of theoretical mechanics). However, for a simple particular case of an elastic ball between two walls (see above), it can be done more easily. Indeed, with each impact with the departing wall, the speed of the ball is decreased by 2u, and this happens once per time interval t = 2X/v. So, the ball decelerates with the rate of dv/dt = 2u/t =uv/X, hence dv/v= udt/X = dX/X. Integrating this differential equation gives us directlyXv = Const. Conservation laws play a central role both for the physical processes, and for the physics as a science (cf Minimum of Maximum), and adiabatic invariant is not an exception. Perhaps the most important role of it is related to the quantum mechanics. Namely, during adiabatic processes, the system will not leave the stationary quantum state it has taken (as long as the state itself does not disappear). To motivate this claim, let us consider a biatomic molecule, which can be modelled as an oscillator. When treating the process classically, the trajectory of a harmonic oscillator in the phase space is an ellips of surface areaJ = p0x0, where p0 and x0 are the amplitudes of the momentum and coordinate. Note

that p0 = mx0 0, where 0 is the circular eigenfrequency of the oscillator; therefore, the full energy of the oscillator (calculated as the maximal kinetic energy) is E = p02/2m = p0x0 0/2 = J 0/2 = J f0. Hence, the adiabatic invariant J = E/f0: during adiabatic processes, the oscillation energy is proportional to the frequency. According to the quantum mechanics, the stationary energy levels of the oscillator are given byEn=hf0(n +1/2), where n is an integer representing the order number of the energy level. Comparing the classical and quantum-mechanical results leads us to the conclusion that during adiabatic processes,n = Const: the system will remain at the stationary state of the same order number where it was(Figure 2) . (While it is not always completely correct to combine classical and quantum-mechanical results, classical mechanics is a macroscopic limit of the quantum mechanics and hence, the conservation laws of both theories need to be compatible.)

Now, suppose our bi-atomic molecule is forced by an electromagnetic field in the form of an adiabatic pulse. In terms of classical mechanics we say that such a forcing is unable to pump energy into oscillations of the molecule, because the adiabatic invariant is conserved and hence, the energy of oscillations depends only on the current eigenfrequency. In terms of quantum mechanics well say exactly the same, but the motivation will be different: the adiabatic pulse contains no photons which are resonant with the oscillator. Another important role of the adiabatic invariant is protecting us from the cosmic radiation (in collaboration with the magnetic field of the Earth). It appears that the motion of a charged particle in a magnetic field can be represented as an Hamiltonian motion (we skip here the definition of the Hamiltonian motion as it would go too deeply into the subject of theoretical mechanics), with a redefined momentum. It appears also that with this new momentum (the so-called generalized momentum), the adiabatic invariant of a gyrating (helicoidally moving) charged particle is its magnetic dipole moment (which is proportional to the magnetic flux embraced by the trajectory, hence this flux is also conserved). So, if a charged particle moves helicoidally along magnetic field lines towards a stronger magnetic field, due to the conservation of its magnetic moment, the perpendicular (to the magnetic field) component of its velocity will increase. Owing to the conservation of its kinetic energy, the parallel component of the velocity will decrease, and at a certain point, it becomes equal to zero: the particle is reflected back (Figure 3). This is exactly what happens with a majority of the charged particles approaching Earth along the field lines of its magnetic field.

Adiabatic invariant has simple every-day applications, too. Suppose you try to carry a cup of coffee this will be quite simple even if the cup is completely full. Now try the same with a plate of soup at least with full plate, this will be quite difficult! Finally, with a large full photographic tray, this will be nearly impossible! The reason is that when you try to keep your hands motionless, they still move slightly, but the feedback from your vision allows you to correct the mistakes. The characteristic timescale of such a motion of hands is of the same order of magnitude as your reaction time, in the range of 0.2 0.4 s. This is to be compared with the reciprocal of the circular eigenfrequency 0-1 of the water level oscillations. ( 0-1 differs from the full period T by 2 ; 0-1 serves as a better reference here, because the corrective motion of hands represents no more than a quarter of a full period of an oscillatory motion.) For a plate of depth h and length L, the smallest eigenfrequency can be estimated as the frequency of standing waves of wavelength 2L (see also problem No 2 of IPhO-1984). The speed of shallow water waves is (gh)1/2, so that the eigenfrequency will be f0 = (gh)1/2/2L. For a cup of coffee, the diameter and depth can be estimated as 7cm, hence the characteristic time scale of oscillations will be 0-1 0.03s; with respect to such oscillations, the hand motion is adiabatic even if we apply our smallest estimate of 0.2s (note that counter-intuitively, here a slow reaction is better than a fast one). For a plate of H = 3cm and L = 25cm we get 0-1 0.15s the hand motion is already not very adiabatic. Finally, for a photographic tray ofH = 3cm and L = 60cm, we obtain 01 0.35s, which is really difficult to handle. Finally, in the context of adiabaticity, it is interesting to analyse the IPhO problem about tides, which was posed in 1996 in Oslo (as Problem No 3). The problem is, indeed, very interesting: you are given a simplified model of a complex and important phenomenon, which, regardless of simplicity, gives you reasonable estimate and teaches valuable physical concepts. Let us read its text and comment the model assumptions. In this problem we consider some gross features of the magnitude of mid-ocean tides on earth. We simplify the problem by making the following assumptions: (i) The earth and the moon are considered to be an isolated system, /a very reasonable assumption: even the effect of the Sun is small in the reference frame of MoonEarth centre of mass, where the inertial force and Sun gravity cancel each other out/ (ii) the distance between the moon and the earth is assumed to be constant, /also reasonable: there are small variations, but nothing to worry about/ (iii) the earth is assumed to be completely covered by an ocean, /this is definitely not the case, but at least the Pacific Ocean is very large; as a model, why not / (iv) the dynamic effects of the rotation of the earth around its axis are neglected, and /Did you understand what they wanted to say? If not, you need to learn reading the problem texts!

Well, it means that the forcing of the water by the Moon is to be assumed to be adiabatic (slow), so that the water level will take a quasi-equilibrium position (ie. equilibrium, where the equilibrium state changes slowly in time). The validity of this assumption will be discussed below./ (v) the gravitational attraction of the earth can be determined as if all mass were concentrated at the centre of the earth. Again, a perfectly reasonable assumption: the gravitational field of a sphere (assuming that the mass density depends only on the distance from the centre) is outside the sphere the same as that of a point mass. The departure of the Earth's shape from a sphere is small, indeed. And so, is the tide forcing really adiabatic? We need to compare the period of forcing with the eigenfrequency, or, the speed of the "piston" with the speed of waves. The speed of the "piston" is the Earth perimeter divided by 24 h, ie. v = 460 m/s. The relevant wave is, in effect, a tsunami with the estimated speed of (gH)1/2 = 200 m/s (here, H = 4000 m is an estimate for the average ocean depth). So, the forcing is far from being adiabatic, we could say that the assumption (iv) is horribly wrong. On the other hand, if we solve the problem according to these assumptions, we obtain for the tide amplitude h = 27 cm, which has at least a correct order of magnitude; why? Well, because for a typical resonance response curve, the response amplitude at a double eigenfrequency (which we would need as the "piston" speed is ca twice the wave speed) is of the same order of magnitude as that of a zero frequency (which is obtained in this Problem). Further, since the tidal motion of the water is by no means quasi-stationary, the ocean boundaries will play an important role. What will happen is very similar to the motion of tea in a cup, when you push the tea by a spoon: basin boundaries reflect the moving water, creating vortices and complex pattern of tidal heights. To conclude, we learned that the above tide model fails for water tides (providing a very rough estimate of the tidal height); perhaps it can be used somewhere else with a better accuracy? The answer is "yes, for the tides of the Earth crust "! Indeed, the mantle thickness is of the order of few thousands km, which corresponds to almost ten-fold tsunami speed and makes the Moon as a "piston" reasonably adiabatic. The relative crust deformation due to tidal movements is so small that the elastic response of the crust is also negligible: the result h = 27 cm is indeed very close to reality. Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

3. Force diagrams or generalized coordinates?

Typically you are taught in high school that in order to solve problems with interacting bodies you need to draw force diagrams, and write down the force balance equations (based on Newton II law) for x and ycomponents (for three-dimensional problems, also the z-component). However, for problems which are more difficult than the elementary ones, this is typically far from being the simplest approach. Meanwhile, there is a very powerful method based on generalized coordinates, which provides in most cases the easiest route to the solution. The basic idea of the method is as follows. Suppose the state of a system can be described by a single parameter , which we call the

generalized coordinate (the method can be also applied with two or more parameters, but this will complicate things, and in most cases, one parameter is perfectly enough). Then, what you need to do is to express the potential energy in terms of , the time-derivative of of the system in terms of : , , and the kinetic energy . Then, if there is no dissipation and external

forces, the net energy is conserved: equality, we obtain generalized coordinate:

. Upon taking time-derivative of this , from where we can express the acceleration of the

Note that most often, and/or depends also on

is constant, because the kinetic energy is proportional to . In some cases, it may happen that

, and

plays the role of an effective mass

depends also on

; then, the above formula will not work, but the technique itself remains

still applicable (cf. the example of rotating spring below). In order to illustrate this method, let us start with a simple wedge problem. Consider a system where a ball of mass lays on a wedge of mass , and is attached with a weightless rope . and pully to a wall as depicted in Figure; you are asked to find the acceleration of the wedge, assuming that all the surfaces are frictionless, and there is a homogeneous gravity field

When using the force diagram method, it would be a good idea to use the (non-inertial) reference frame associated with the wedge (introducing thereby the inertial forces and ), because otherwise, it would be difficult to write down equation describing the fact that the ball will remain on the inclined surface of the wedge. Here, however, we leave this for the reader as an exercise, and describe the state of the system via the displacement is of the wedge. Then, the velocity of the wedge , implying that the vertical component . Hence, we find that ; the velocity of the ball with respect to the wedge is also

of the ball's velocity is

, and the horizontal component is

Upon taking time derivative of this equation and cancelling out wedge acceleration:

, we obtain an expression for the

As another example, let us consider an old IPhO problem (5th IPhO in Sofia, 1971, Problem No 1). The set-up is quite similar to the previous problem, but there is no wall, there are two bricks instead of one ball, and the wedge has two inclined surfaces (see Figure); we ask again, what is the acceleration of the wedge.

You might think that the method does not work here, because there are two degrees of freedom: the wedge can slide on the table, and the bricks can slide with respect to the wedge. However, if we make use of the conservation of the centre of mass (there are no external horizontal forces), we can express the displacement of the bricks : (with respect to the wedge) via the displacement of the wedge

What is left to do, is to write



, take time derivative of the full energy, and express

. Well, there is some math do

be done, but that is actually just an algebra. If you do it correctly, you obtain . A really simple example is provided by water level oscillations in U-tube. Let the water occupy length of the U-tube, and let us use the water level height (with respect to the equilibrium level) , a water column of height from one arm has and moved into the other arm of the U-tube, which corresponds ; meanwhile, . So, upon applying our technique we . as the generalized coordinate. For a state with been lifted by an height difference to the potential energy obtain

, which describes an harmonic oscillator of circular frequency

Actually, when in hurry and oscillation frequency is needed, two steps of the scheme (taking time derivative and writing the equation of motion) can be skipped. Indeed, for an harmonic oscillator, both and and need to be quadratic in , where and and , respectively, ie. should have form .

are constants; then,

Next, the technique can be used to analyse oscillations in simple rotating systems, such as, for instance, a system of two balls of mass rotating with angular momentum , connected with a spring of length and stiffness , (which is perpendicular to the spring). Here, again, an additional of the spring as the generalized coordinate. Then,

(to the energy) conservation law (of angular momentum) reduces the effective number of degrees of freedom down to one. Let us use the deformation

This case is different in that the kinetic energy depends not only on

, but also on

; in

effect, the second term of the kinetic energy behaves as a potential one, and can be combined into an effective potential energy in the expression for the full energy. Following our technique,

This equation of motion can be linearised around the state of equilibrium the right-hand-side turns to zero), by introducing expansion quadratic and higher terms, ie. by substituting obtain

(such that for

. Linearisation means approximating a with ; this is . As a result, we

non-linear function with a linear one, and is typically done by neglecting in the Taylor legitimate if the argument varies in a narrow range, in this case for

which gives us immedieately the circular frequency of small oscillations,

What we did here can be also called a linear stability analysis (which is a very popular technique in physics). Indeed, it is easy to see that regardless of the parameter values, the circular frequency is always a real number, ie. the circular trajectories of the balls are always stable (meanwhile, imaginary circular frequency would mean that the solution includes a component which grows exponentially in time, ie. the regular motion along the circular trajectory would be unstable). Note that almost exactly the same analysis which was done here for the rotating spring, was used in the"official" solution of the Problem 1 (subquestion 3) of IPhO-2011. However, it appears that for the mentioned problem, this technique cannot be applied as easily: there is one mistake in the solution, and another one among the assumptions of the problem; for more details, see the mosaic tile "Are trojans stable?". Up til now we have dealt with problems where the task was to find an acceleration. What to do, if you are asked to find a force? For instance, a sphere and a wedge are placed on two facing ramps as shown in Figure; all the surfaces are frictionless. Find the normal force between the wedge and the sphere.

Well, it would be very easy to find the acceleration of the ball (or that of the wedge) using the method of generalized coordinates (ball displacement can be used as the coordinate). But once we know the acceleration, it is also easy to find the normal force Newton II law! (The answer is .) between the wedge and the ball from the

The method of generalized coordinates is designed to work for dissipation-less systems.. However, in some cases it is also possible to take into account the friction. To illustrate this, let us modify the previous problem so that the right ramp remains frictionless, but the left ramp has high friction, so that the ball will rotate along it, and the friction between the wedge and the ball is described by kinetic friction coefficient .

The idea here is to "fix" the energy conservation law by adding the work performed by the friction force. Initally, such an equation will involve the normal force as a parameter, but it can be determined later: we express the normal force in the same ways as for the previous problem, and this will be the equation for finding corresponding to the net work of as . So, and ; the ) and on the ball (of length ), contact point leaves "traces" both on the wedge (of length

. So, the energy conservation law is written

from where

. Now, assuming that we have heavy wedge, and the system moves leftwards, the Newton II law for the wedge can be written as

, and hence,

. As a final example illustrating this method, let us consider a somewhat more difficult problem, posed by W.H. Besant in 1859, and solved by Lord Rayleigh in 1917: in an infinite space filled with an incompressible liquid of density at pressure , there is a spherical "bubble" of radius , which has vacuum inside. Due to the pressure (far away, it is kept equal to find the collaps time of the "bubble". Here we use the radius ), the "bubble" starts collapsing;

of the "bubble" as the generalized . Due to the .

coordinate; there is no potential energy, but there is work done by the pressure, . What is left to do, is to express the kinetic energy of the fluid in terms of around the centre of the "bubble" is independent of So, the kinetic energy can be found as : incompressibility of the fluid, the volume flux of liquid through any spherical surface of radius

So, the energy balance can be written as

This equation could be used to find the acceleration so we put , and express in terms of

; however, we need to know the collapse time; :


Thus, we were able to obtain an answer, which contains a dimensionless integral: substituting allowed us to get rid of the dimensional quantities under the integral (if possible, always use this technique to convert integrals into dimensionless numbers). This result could be left as is, since finding an integral is a task for mathematicians. The mathematicians, however, have been up to the task: function. So, we can write where denotes the gamma

Finally, to close the topic of the generalized coordinates, it should be mentioned that this technique can be developed into generic theories Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalisms, which are typically taught as a main component of the course of theoretical mechanics. In particular, the Hamiltonian formalism makes it possible to prove the conservation of adiabatic invariant, as well

as the KAM (Kolmogorov-Arnold-Mozer)theorem, as well as to derive conservation laws from the symmetry properties of the Hamiltonian (orLagrangian) using the Noether's theorem. The Hamiltonian approach differs from what is described here by using the generalized momentum generalized velocity above): considered as a function of and square of the generalized velocity, one can just use the effective mass , (defined is . However, for , instead of the . For the most typical cases when the kinetic energy is proportional to the . Then, the expression for the full energy ,

, and is called the Hamiltonian; the equation of

motion is written in the form of a system of equations, provided above is just enough! Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

the practical application of problem solving, the simplified approach to the generalized coordinates

4. Are Trojans stable?

To begin with, what are Trojans? These are small celestial bodies which move together with two heavy bodies (typically the sun and a planet) in such a way that (a) the relative position of the three bodies does not change (they rotate as if forming a solid body); (b) the motion of these small bodies is stable: small fluctuations in the relative position will not be amplified. It appears that for a two-body system, eg, the Sun and the Jupiter, there are five points, where a small (third) body could move so that the condition (a) will be satisfied the so called Lagrangian points, denoted by L1, L2, L3, L4 and L5. The first three of these lay at the same line with the Sun and Jupiter. In addition, as was shown in IPhO problem 1989-2, the condition (a) will be also satisfied, if the three bodies form an equilateral triangle; the respective points are denoted by L4 and L5. It appears that the Lagrangian points L1, L2 and L3 are always unstable, but the points L4 and L5 can be stable. In particular, for the Sun-Jupiter system, L4 and L5 are stable, and there are actually a considerable number of asteroids "trapped" into the vicinity of these points. These asteroids are named after the figures of the Trojan war, which is why the satellites in Lagrangian points L4 and L5 are called the Trojans (the term is not limited to the Sun-Jupiter system). And so, the Trojans are stable by definition, and the title here is somewhat inaccurate; the actual question is, are the Lagrangian points L4 and L5 always stable? The question is motivated by the Problem 1 (subquestion iii) of IPhO 2010 which made an attempt of studying the stability of L4 for a system consisting of two equal point masses (actually, small oscillations of a small body moving around L4). The official solution, concluded that the small body will oscillate, ie. the position is stable. However, a careful analysis shows that the stability of L4 and L5 is achieved only if the ratio of the two large masses is large enough larger than , ie. for two equal masses the

equilibrium is unstable! So, what went wrong in the IPhO Problem 2010-1-iii?

To begin with, let us mention that stability for such a system is actually quite a surprising thing. Indeed, according to the Earnshaw's theorem, there are no stable equilibrium configurations for particles with Coulomb potential (gravitational potential is identical to the Coulomb one). Indeed, if there were a point Pwhich is a stable equilibrium for positive charges, in the immediate vicinity of P, all the field lines need to be directed towards P, because otherwise, a positive charge would escape from P along the outgoing field lines. This, however, would be in contradiction with the Gauss law for a small spherical neighbourhood of P: the flux of the force field needs to be negative (there are only incoming field lines), but equals strictly to zero for Coulomb potentials. Here we hope that L4 will be a stable equilibrium in the system of reference co-rotating with the two heavy masses; in that system, there is also the force field of the centrifugal force. Unfortunately, centrifugal force is of no help, because it leads to the creation of field lines in vacuum, making the flux around P strictly positive (recall that stability requires a negative flux). Now, let us recall that besides the gravitational and centrifugal forces, we have also the Coriolis force, which acts, however, only on moving bodies. Hence, the stability can be created only by the Coriolis force! Unfortunately, the Coriolis force is not included into the Syllabus of IPhO. Quite often, the usage of Coriolis force can be avoided, most typically by using non-rotating systems of reference (the origin can move along a circle, though), or studying only potential energies (Coriolis force does not perform work). Here, however, neither of these tricks can be used: the system of reference needs to rotate (because the net gravitational field is stationary only in such a system), and as we saw, we cannot work with the potentials only, because the Coriolis force is needed to achieve the stability. The authors of the problem believed to have been found a work-around: assume that there is an approximate conservation of the angular momentum (with respect to the centre of mass O of the whole system, cf. Figure) of the small body, and apply the method of generalized coordinates: if the radial displacement from the equilibrium point L4 (or L5; marked in Figure as P) is used as the can be expressed via the radial one , allowing us to coordinate, the tangential velocity

write down the energy balance equation (recall that the Coriolis force cancels out from that equation as it does not create any work). From that equation, one could immediately obtain the circular frequency of small oscillations. However, we have made two mistakes here. First, the angular momentum is not conserved, even not approximately. Indeed, angular momentum is conserved if would require that such a the force field is rotationally symmetric. However, a superposition of the gravitational fields of two point masses has no such symmetry. Approximate conservation of distance symmetry is local: near L4, the curvature radius of the equipotential surface needs to be equal to the from the origin O; regrettably, this is also not the case. Second, the gravitational energy , but also on the tangential displacement from L4; note via , even the (non)conservation of the angular momentum is depends not only on the radial coordinate that there is no way of expressing useless.

So, how to obtain a correct solution to this problem what is the frequency of small oscillations around the Lagrangian point L4, assuming that the two heavy masses are equal? Well, we just need to follow the standard way of doing such things: first, we write down the equations of motion for both coordinates, and , and second, use linear approximation (which is valid for small and ; when displacements), ie. neglect the terms which involve second and higher powers of

working with the gravitational potential, this corresponds to neglecting the terms with third and higher powers. In such a way, we obtain linear equations of motion. The third step is to find the eigenfrequencies of that system of equations, ie. such values of the equations will be satisfied with eigenfrequency with a positive imaginary part hand, if for all the eigenfrequencies eigenfrequency and that with a proper choice of , . If there is at least one then the system is unstable. On the other , the system is stable (unless there is an

, in which case the linear analysis is not sufficient for proving stability). As

afourth useful idea, let us note that with more than one point mass, it is much more convenient tocalculate the gravitational potential, rather than the resultant gravitational force. According to what has been said, we need an expression for the Coriolis force. Of course, we could just take a ready formula, but it would be better to understand how it can be obtained (if you are not interested, please skip this part). And so, consider a system of reference, which rotates around the origin with an angular velocity (the vector defines the rotation axis according to the corkscrew . In moves in the moves with velocity , and when studying . Now, if the point rule). Consider a point , which is motionless in the rotating system, and let us denote , one can see that (let us use

the lab system of reference, the point the direction of the velocity

rotating system of reference with velocity point:

to measure the time in the rotating

system), then this additional velocity needs to be added to what would have been for a motionless

So, we can conclude that the time-derivatives of vectors in rotating and lab systems of reference are related via equality

This is written in the form of an operator, which means that we can write any vector (eg sides of the equality :


rightwards of all the three terms. In particular, we can apply this formula to the right- and left-hand-

Here we need to bear in mind that when taking derivatives of vectors and products of vectors, all the well-known rules can be applied; in particular, and product, . We also need the rule for the double cross ; you can memorize this equality by keeping in mind that

the double product is a linear combination of the vectors from the inner braces, and that the sign '+' comes with the vector from the middle position. And so, bearing in mind that and assuming that , we obtain and ,

Let us recall that an external force

is the acceleration of the point acting on , then

as seen in the lab system of reference, and is a point mass , and there is and hence,

is the same as seen in the rotating system of reference. Now, if

ie. in the rotating system of reference, the body behaves as if there were additional forces: the Coriolis force , and the centrifugal force .

Now we are finally ready to tackle the IPhO Problem 2010-1-iii. As mentioned above, the first step is writing down the potential energy in the rotating system of reference (see Figure above):

note that the last term corresponds to the potential energy of the centrifugal force. When working with this potential energy, we can forget about the constant part of it; additionally, we can also forget about the linear part, because it gives us the force, which is exactly zero: our point L4 has been chosen so as to provide an equilibrium. Owing to that equilibrium, we have also equality . We approximate the potential using the formula

(which includes the first two terms of the Taylor expansion); keeping in mind that we obtain

This can be further simplified:

hence, the resultant force of the gravitational and centrifugal forces can be written as written as as and , . Component-wise, the Coriolis force can be . Finally, the equations of motion can be written

Now we can proceed with the final step, finding the eigenfrequencies. We look for the solutions in the form , , upon substituting these expressions we obtain

This is a quadratic equation for the form

, which results in

This can be brought to

So, we can conclude that due to the presence of an unstable solution , the equilibrium point L4 (and L5) is not stable in the case of a binary gravitational system with two equal masses. Final notes. This mosaic tile is different from the others in that it is not motivated by a (more or less) universal problem solving technique or an important physical concept; instead, it is mainly aimed to clarify a single IPhO problem. The assumptions of physics contest problems don't need to be entirely correct. However, for physicists, it is very important to be aware, how firm or loose are the assumptions of their study, and to which degree can the the conclusions of their study be affected by the mismatch between the assumptions and the real life. Studies based on wrong assumptions can be useful, but the fact that the assumptions are not valid needs to be emphasized. The contest problems

serve mostly educational purposes and are no different if an invalid assumption is made, it should be clearly pointed out, and, if possible, explained why an incorrect assumption was made. Of course, no-one is secured against accidental mistakes; in particular, the more interesting your newly invented problem is, the higher are the chances that there are some mistakes. Meanwhile, the IPhO problems serve as a well-tested pool of exercises, tested by the contestants and leaders of many countries, and it is better to make sure that there are no unresolved issues in these problems. This is the reasoning which led to the current mosaic tile. Although we are not able to close here the list of all such problems (for instance, there are problems1988-2-iv and 2000-3-iv,v; you can let me know if you found out what is wrong there), more recent problems get typically more attention. Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

Problem 0
What is the diameter of the lens which was used to make the photo below? Remark: although the photographic lenses are made of several optical components, for many practical calculations including this problem they can be considered as ideal thin lenses.

Although this was not a competition problem, two correct solutions have been submitted: by Dinis Cheian and Ivan Ivashkovskiy. The Ivan's solution is very thorough with error analysis (as should be for such a semiexperimental problem) and is presented below on two images. Note that he defines n as the ratio of two lengths, him and l, which he can measure from the photo and thus calculate n. On the other hand, he finds expressions for him and l, and using these expressions shows that n =H/D. Knowing the object lenth H, he can find now D. In addition to that solution, I have two comments. First, the usage of the Newton formula would have simplified slightly the mathematics: x1x2 = F2, where x1 =d F and x2 = f F are the distances of the object and of the image from the respective focal planes (using Ivan's notations, d and f are the respective distances from the lens). So, the diameter of the circle of confusion l = Dx2 / F = FD / x1 = FD / (d F). Second, pay attention to the main result: the diameter of the lens equals to the diameter of the circle of confusion created by a far-away dot-source, if measured by the image of an infocus ruler. So, if you have a subject for your photo (eg. friends face for a portrait) and you want to blur the (far-away) background, the degree of the background blur is defined purely by the diameter of the lens: a tele-lens 600mm/4 creates circles of confusion of the size of the face, leaving no visible details at the background; a point-and-shoot camera with a small sensor and 8mm/4 lens creates almost no background blur: the diameter of the circles of confusion are smaller than the pupils of the portrait. Finally, let us analyse the benefits of a large camera: you have a full-frame DSLR, and your friend has a small point-and-shoot camera of a 4 times smaller sensor (in linear size). Your friend takes a photo of something, zooming to the focal length of 13 mm and is using the full aperture of F/4 (ie. the focallength-to-diameter ratio equals to 4). You want to obtain exactly the same result: in order to have the same angle of view (and perspective), you need to take the focal length equal to 13*4 = 52 (your 50mm/1.4 standard prime lens works well). In order to have the same blur, you need to shut down the lens down to the aperture F/16 (using the diaphragm you decrease the effective diameter). On the other hand, if you take a photo at the full aperture of F/1.4, your friend would need the aperture of F/0.35, which is theoretically impossible (would violate the second law of thermodynamics). Meanwhile, if you want to have both sharp foreground and sharp background, the point-and-shoot is better: you can use F/22, which would correspond to F/88 for the DSLR. While theoretically this is possible, the smallest aperture is typically only F/32 (starting from ca F/16, diffraction starts degrading the image). - Jaan Kalda Academic Committe -

Problem No 1
A ballistic missile is launched from the north pole, the target is at the latitude \Phi (>0, if northern hemisphere, <0 otherwise). At which angle (with respect to the horizon) the missile needs to be launched in order to have minimal launch velocity of the missile?

Remark: ballistic missile is like a stone: you give its initial velocity, and it moves due to inertia; you can neglect the air friction.

NB! When submitting your answer, please use the subject line "Problem No 1". If you are not yet registered, you can still register and participate: just send the registration info (name, date of birth, etc.) together with your answer.

Finally, what you may assume well-known and what not: things which are not in the formula sheet need to be motivated/derived. (You don't need to check your typical high-school formulae are there.)

Results after Problem 1

The list of the contest leaders after the first problem:

Points Name 4.8156 Brahim Saadi 2.5937 Dinis Cheian 2.5937 Mikhail Shirkin 1.7538 Cristian Zanoci 1.6105 Jakub Supe 1.6105 Nikita Sopenko 1.1 1.1 1.1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Kohei Kawabata Lars Dehlwes SZAB Attila Ion Toloaca Jakub afin Jaan Toots Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella Lev Ginzburg Alexandra Vasileva Task Ohmori Ilie Popanu Sharad Mirani

Country Algeria Moldova Russia Moldova Poland Russia Japan Germany Hungary Moldova Slovak Estonia Brazil Russia Russia Japan Moldova India Moldova India Brazil Russia

School Preparatory School for Science & Technology of Annaba Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Gymnasium of Ramenskoye Colgio Objetivo, Lins, So Paulo Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau 14th School of Stanis aw Staszic, Warsaw Lyceum No.14, Tambov Nada High School Ohm-Gymnasium Erlangen Le wey Klra High School, Pcs liceul "Mircea Eliade" Pavol Horov Secondary, Michalovce Tallinn Secondary Science School Colgio Integrado Objetivo, Barueri, Brazil



Igor Ev


2.1436 Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho Brazil

Igor Ev

W odzi


Mr. Per Simon

Igor Iu

Jozef S



Advanced Educational Scientific Center, MSU, Moscow I.V. Lu Lyceum "Second School", Moscow Nada High School Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Prakash Higher Secondary School Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Narayana Jr. College, Basheer Bagh, India Colgio Integrado Objetivo, So Paulo, Brazil Smolensk Pedagogical Lyceum

A.R. Zi



Igor Ev

Ruchi S

0.9801 Mekan Toyjanow 0.8733 Papimeri Dumitru 0.81 0,81 0.81 Meylis Malikov Bharadwaj Rallabandi Liara Guinsberg

TurkmenistanTurgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School TurkmenistanTurgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School

Halit C

Igor Ev Vyom

Halit C


0.6561 Nadezhda Vartanian


The list of those who completed successfully the problem, ordered according to the arrival time of the correct solution: 1. Dinis Cheian (Moldova), 2. Mikhail Shirkin (Russia), 3. Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho (Brazil), 4. Cristian Zanoci (Moldova), 5. Brahim Saadi (Algeria). 6. Nikita Sopenko (Russia) 7. Jakub Supe (Poland) 8. Papimeri Dumitru (Moldova) 9. Mekan Toyjanow (Turkemistan) 10. Kohei Kawabata (Japan) 11. Lars Dehlwes (Germany) 12. Meylis Malikov (Turkemistan) 13. Szab Attila (Hungary) 14. Jakub afin (Slovakia)

15. Ion Toloaca (Moldova) 16. Jaan Toots (Estonia) 17. Bharadwaj Rallabandi (India) 18. Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella (Brazil) 19. Lev Ginzburg (Russia) 20. Liara Guinsberg (Brazil) 21. Alexandra Vasileva (Russia)

22. Task Ohmori 23. Ilie Popanu

(Japan) (Moldova) (Russia)

24. Nadezhda Vartanian

25. Sharad Mirani; (India)

The best solution: Brahim Saadi. Besides, there was one almost correct solutions and 23 wrong solutions. The overall number of registered participants: 186. NB! Don't forget to try solving Problem No 2, the faster ones will get more points! Jaan Kalda Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

I hope you found the first problem to be interesting. I am fond of it myself, because (a) it extends nicely the widely-known fact that 45 degrees is the optimal throwing angle; (b) is exactly solvable regardless of seeming difficulty; (c) optimal solution is technically quite simple; (d) the answer has a real practical relevance. According to the results, it was not a simple one; still the difficulty was perhaps close to optimal it kept the most of you busy the whole month, and still 13% of you were able to solve it. The second problem is probably at least as difficult (maybe the third one will be simpler). Regardless of the relative difficulty, there was one of you, for whom it was not difficult enough, and who solved a more generic star-war-problem: the launching site and target are at different distances from the centre of Earth. This is not a cosmetic change, because the problem becomes nonsymmetric. Solution-wise, it adds one more step, which makes use of the geometric property of hyperbolas. For a professional physicist, it is really important to be able to figure out if the problem (or model) under study can be made more generic while maintaining solvability, so for this problem, we have a clear winner of the best solution. (However, I am inclined to think that for the major part of the contest problems, it will be impossible to make such nice, non-cosmetic generalizations, which would justify giving the award of the best solution.) And so, the award for the best solution, a bonus factor e, goes to Brahim Saadi.

The second-best solution, the one made by Mikhail Shirkin, is actually the one I had in mind when giving you the problem. Mikhail has written it down in a very laconic way: for a research paper, this writing style is definitely not appropriate, but for the solution of an Olympiad problem, it is just perfect! So, I am giving him a bonus factor of 1.1. Another factor of 1.1 goes to the solution of Szab Attila, which represents a good style of research papers: the model assumptions are clearly formulated, formulae are put into correct sentences, text is understandable even for people who are not very well-prepared. There are two more solutions which I found useful to show you (both will also get a factor of 1.1). The first one is of Lars Dehlwes, who had made a useful graph of how the minimal velocity depends on the latitude of the target (note that small differences in the required velocity imply actually a large economy, because the fuel mass of the missile depends exponentially on the terminal velocity, cf. Eq IV-21 of the latest formula sheet). The second one is of Jakub Supe , who was not the only one to derive the formula E=-GMm/2a, but was among the first ones to do so, and did it nicely in LaTeX. While actually you did not need to derive this formula as it is in my formula sheet, it is useful for you to know, how it is done. Many of you (majority, in fact) used the "brute force" approach: express the launch velocity (or the square of it) via some parameter (eg. launch angle or ellipticity of the orbit) and find the minimum from the condition that the derivative is zero. This was definitely a difficult way of doing it, but I was quite amazed by your technical skills! There was not a single mistake in very long mathematical manipulations, ending up in perfectly correct results! (Though, some final answers were left nonsimplified.) Last but not least, what is the lesson of this problem? First, quite often, problems on extrema can be solved without taking derivatives, geometrically, which is typically a much simpler way. Second, when solving the problems put on the Kepler's laws,the geometrical and optical properties of ellips (see Eq XII-7 on the formula sheet; by the way, these properties are connected with each other via the Fermat's principle) are always very useful. Third, expression for the full energy, E=-GMm/2a is extremely handy (I'd like to call it the Kepler's fourth law but it was not derived by Kepler.) And one more thing: one of you, Comoglio Lorenzo, pointed out that there is a satellite simulation written in Java, if you want to play with trajectories, have a look. Jaan Kalda Academic Committee of IPhO-2012 Best solutions.

Brahim Saadi:

Mikhail Shirkin:

Szab Attila:

Lars Dehlwes:

Jakub Supe :

Problem No 2
Consider a brick-shaped ferromagnetic of relative magnetic permeability >> 1, which has dimensions 2a 2a a and a narrow slit of width d and depth a sawed into it as shown in Figure. You may assume that d>> a >> d. A circular loop of diameter a and inductance L, made of a superconducting material, is put into that slit; the loop carries electric current I. What is the mechanical work A needed to be done in order to pull the loop out of the slit and move it to a large distance from the ferromagnetic? Remarks: (a) the inductance of the loop equals to L when it is far away from the ferromagnetic. (b) The current in the loop equals to I when the loop is inside the slit. (c) You may assume that the hysteresis of the ferromagnetic is negligible, and is constant (independent of B).

Results after Problem 2

The list of the contest leaders after the second problem:

Points Name 5.6695 Brahim Saadi 4.9694 SZAB Attila 4.5041 Nikita Sopenko 2.7363 Jakub afin

Country Algeria Hungary Russia Slovak Germany Moldova

School Preparatory School for Science & Technology of Annaba Le wey Klra High School, Pcs Lyceum No.14, Tambov Colgio Objetivo, Lins, So Paulo Pavol Horov Secondary, Michalovce Ohm-Gymnasium Erlangen Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau


Derrad Simon


4.4353 Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho Brazil 2.6785 Lars Dehlwes 2.5937 Dinis Cheian

Jozef S

Mr. Per

Igor Ev

2.5937 Mikhail Shirkin 2.435 Ilie Popanu 1.9801 Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella 1.9703 Alexandra Vasileva 1.81 Ion Toloaca

Russia Moldova Brazil Russia Moldova Moldova Moldova Poland Japan Estonia Russia India Japan India Brazil Russia

Gymnasium of Ramenskoye Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Colgio Integrado Objetivo, Barueri, Brazil Lyceum "Second School", Moscow liceul "Mircea Eliade" Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau 14th School of Stanis aw Staszic, Warsaw Nada High School Tallinn Secondary Science School Prakash Higher Secondary School Nada High School Narayana Jr. College, Basheer Bagh, India Colgio Integrado Objetivo, So Paulo, Brazil Smolensk Pedagogical Lyceum


Igor Ev


A.R. Zi


Igor Iu

1.7643 Papimeri Dumitru 1.7538 Cristian Zanoci 1.6105 Jakub Supe 1.1 1 1 1 1 0.81 0.81 0.81 Kohei Kawabata Jaan Toots Lev Ginzburg Sharad Mirani Task Ohmori Bharadwaj Rallabandi Liara Guinsberg Meylis Malikov

Igor Ev

Igor Ev

W odzi


Advanced Educational Scientific Center, MSU, Moscow I.V. Lu

Ruchi S

T.Ham Vyom

0.9801 Mekan Toyjanow

TurkmenistanTurgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School

Halit C


TurkmenistanTurgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School

Halit C

0.6561 Nadezhda Vartanian


Points for Problem No 2: Pts Name Country Hungary Russia Brazil Slovak Germany Moldova Brazil Russia Moldova Algeria Moldova

3,8694 SZAB Attila 2,8935 Nikita Sopenko 2,2917 Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho 1,7363 Jakub 1,435 afin 1,5785 Lars Dehlwes Ilie Popanu 0,9801 Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella 0,9703 Alexandra Vasileva 0,891 0,81 Papimeri Dumitru Ion Toloaca 0,8539 Brahim Saadi

Correct solutions (ordered according to the arrival time): 1. Szab Attila (Hungary).

2. Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho (Brazil) 3. Nikita Sopenko (Russia) 4. Jakub afin (Slovak)

5. Lars Dehlwes (Germany) 6. Ilie Popanu (Moldova) 7. Brahim Saadi (Algeria) 8. Alexandra Vasileva (Russia) 9. Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella (Brazil) 10. Papimeri Dumitru (Moldova) 11. Ion Toloaca (Moldova) Overall number of registered particpants: 204 (from 38 countries). During the first week, only one correct solution has been submitted (by Szab Attila). So, the problem was judged to be very difficult, and after the first week, few hints were published: "You need to understand how to calculate fields using the circulation theorem and Gauss law; relevant formulas (from the formula sheet) are IX-2, IX-3 and IX-6; I also recommend studying the formulae VIII-8, VIII-9, VIII-13, IX-27, IX-28, and IX-29. And finally this is a common mistake the inductance of a coil is not always multiplied by a factor of core (in fact, it is multiplied by geometry of the ferromagnetic!" During the second week, two more correct solutions were received: by Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho and Nikita Sopenko. So, another hint was added: "In particular, it would be helpful to study the magnetic field created by electric transformers with closed (for instance, toroidal) ferromagnetic cores; Wikipedia is not too useful (there is no calculation of B), except for the figure for leakage flux (which is small/negligible, if is large)." During the first half of the third week, the correct solution of Jakub follows: afin was received. After when you supply it with a ferromagnetic only for very specific cases); the inductance will depend on the

that, on 3rd Nov, another amendment to the hints was made, so that the final wording was as

"you need to understand how to calculate fields using the circulation theorem and Gauss law; relevant formulae (from the formula sheet) are IX-2, IX-3 and IX-6; I also recommend studying the formulae VIII-8, VIII-9, VIII-13, IX-27, IX-28, and IX-29. In particular, it would be helpful to study the magnetic field created by electric transformers with closed (for instance, toroidal) ferromagnetic cores; suggested reading from Wikipedia: figure for leakage flux (which is small, if is large); how to deal with magnetic circuits. Please bear in mind that you are not supposed to copy directly formulae from the latter article, because the shape of our ferromagnetic brick differs from a simplified model of a closed-core transformer; instead, it should be considered as a reading which helps you understand, what is going on with the B-field in our case, and how to correctly apply the circulation theorem. Jaan Kalda Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

I expected this problem to be of the same difficulty level as the Problem No 1. However, it turned out to be more difficult probably because typically in high schools, magnetism is not taught as well as mechanics. On the other hand, the problem, indeed, tests the knowledge of several things: (a) the property of magnetic materials to "attract" the magnetic field lines; (b) Ampere's law; (c) Gauss law; (d) the property of superconducting loops to conserve the magnetic flux; (e) the energy of magnetic fields. Regarding the distribution of the award for the best solution: all the first three solutions are very good, with different strong points (which will be commented below). I decided to distribute the award between these three evenly, giving a small bias to Szab Attila, who was the only one to solve the problem without any hints. So, the bonus factors are e0.4, e0.3 and e0.3. The next three solutions are also partially published due to different reasons and receive bonus factors of 1.1. Let us start with the solution by Szab Attila, which is almost perfect, including all the required components: (a) noting that the dominant part of the magnetic flux is kept inside the ferromagnetic (either using energy-based arguments, or applying Ampere's law as is done here); (b) showing that B has the same order of magnitude both inside the slit and in the ferromagnetic using the Gauss law; (c) recognizing that inside the ferromagnetic, B is not homogeneous and hence, the contribution of the segment residing inside the ferromagnetic brick to the circulation integral of the Ampere's law can only be estimated (and not calculated precisely); (d) applying the Ampere's law to show that inside the slit region surrounded by the current loop, B is homogeneous, and calculating the value of that B; (e) calculating the initial energy as is done here, or via magnetic field energy; (f) applying the flux conservation law for the superconducting loop to calculate the final energy; (g) calculating work as a difference of energies. If there is anything to be desired then it would be a motivation that in the slit, B is perpendicular to the plane of the loop (it is only stated as a fact, without motivation).

The next solution is that of Nikita Sopenko. As compared with the first solution, it includes a proof of the formula (which is not mandatory as it is covered by the formula sheet). Further, his solution does not require a proof that in the slit, B is perpendicular to the current loop, because what is used here is only the perpendicular component of B (which enters both into the Ampere's law and the expression for the magnetic flux). Finally, he has nicely and explicitly shown the continuity of B at the slit boundary using the Gauss law (though, he does miss explicit proof that majority of the flux resides inside the ferromagnetic).

The solution of Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho is provided here as a .pdf file (it is too long to present page-by-page); it differs from the first two solutions in that the approach is based on the concept of reluctance. This is not as clear physically as the approach based on the direct application of the Ampere's law (in particular leaving open the question of why B is homogeneous in the slit); however, Ivan does manage to keep things correct (providing first a theoretical motivation of the method, and then calculating the reluctances in a correct way). The reason why he does receive a bonus is not motivated by his method, but by the fact that he does study, what will happen if L becomes so large (when made of a very thin wire) that the expression in the braces would become negative. In particular, he shows that then, the solution needs to be modified, and the work would be still positive. Also, he applies the formula for the loop inductance to estimate if it is realistic to have such large values of L which would be comparable to the initial inductance of the loop (surrounded by the ferromagnetic); the answer is "not really". Note that intuitively, all the other solutions just imply that the ferromagnetic makes the initial inductance much larger than the inductance L of the standalone loop.

Next, the solution of Jakub

afin; what is worth highlighting, is his way of motivating, why in the

slit, B is perpendicular to the plane of the current loop (while mathematically not as clear and correct as the magnetic field line refraction law described by Ilie Popanu, see below, intuitively and qualitatively these are very useful arguments): "Now, we only need to fi

nd the initial inductance M. For large

, fi

eldlines of B are attracted to the ferromagnetic; inside the slit, therefore, these

fieldlines try to escape from the slit, so they'll be perpendicular to the loop (we can think of it as a deformation of magnetic field of the loop in vacuum). (This won't hold perfectly for fieldlines close to the edge of the loop, though, because they're curved, but for large , this is negligible.)"

As mentioned above, the initial energy can be also calculated via the energy density of the magnetic field (for this method, it is important to understand that the magnetic field fills only the circular sub-region of the slit surrounded by the current loop). The first one to do so was Lars Dehlwes:

Finally, Ilie Popanu proved that in the slit, B is perpendicular to the slit using the refraction law for the magnetic field lines:

Problem No 3
Determine or estimate the net heat flux density each other, which are at temperatures with a monoatomic gas of molar density approximations: 1. The gas density is so low that the mean free path 2. . ; and between two parallel plates at distance . You may use the following from

, respectively. The space between the plates is filled

and of molar mass

3. When gas molecules bounce from the plates, they obtain the temperature of the respective plates (for instance, this will happen if they are absorbed/bound for a short time by the molecules of the plate, and then released back into the space between the plates). 4. You may neglect the black body radiation. 5. "Estimate" means that the numeric prefactor of your expression does not need to be accurate.

Results after Problem 3

The list of the contest leaders after the third problem: Points No 1 7,5632 No 2 No 3 Name Country Hungary Algeria Russia Slovak Brazil Germany Moldova Russia Brazil Moldova Moldova Poland School Le wey Klra High School, Pcs of Annaba Lyceum No.14, Tambov Pavol Horov Secondary, Michalovce Colgio Objetivo, Lins, So Paulo Ohm-Gymnasium Erlangen liceul "Mircea Eliade" Lyceum "Second School", Moscow

1,1 3,8694 2,5937 SZAB Attila Brahim Saadi 1 Nikita Sopenko afin Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho

5,6695 4,8156 0,8539 5,5041 1,6105 2,8935 5,4546

Preparatory School for Science & Technolo

1 1,7363 2,7183 Jakub 1

5,4353 2,1436 2,2917 5,2722 4,1679 3,919 3,7517

1,1 1,5785 2,5937 Lars Dehlwes 1 0,81 2,3579 Ion Toloaca

1 0,9703 1,9487 Alexandra Vasileva 1 0,9801 1,7716 Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella

Colgio Integrado Objetivo, Barueri, Braz Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau

3,3137 2,5937 3,3062 1 3,0746 1,6105

0,72 Dinis Cheian 1,435 0,8712 Ilie Popanu 1,4641 Jakub Supe

14th School of Stanis aw Staszic, Warsaw

2,8424 0,8733 2,7105 1,1 2,5937 2,5937 2,4738 1,7538 2 1,81 1,1 1 1 1 0,8712 0,81 0,81 0,72 0,5648 0,81 0,81 1 1 1 1 0,81

0,891 1,0781 Papimeri Dumitru 1,6105 Kohei Kawabata Mikhail Shirkin 0,72 Cristian Zanoci 1 Jaan Toots 1 Bharadwaj Rallabandi 1 Nadezhda Vartanian 1,1 Krzysztof Markiewicz Lev Ginzburg Sharad Mirani Task Ohmori Mekan Toyjanow 0,8712 Petar Tadic Liara Guinsberg Meylis Malikov 0,72 Rajat Sharma 0,5648 Lorenzo Comoglio

Moldova Japan Russia Moldova Estonia India Russia Poland Russia India Japan Montenegro Brazil India Italy

Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Nada High School Gymnasium of Ramenskoye Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Tallinn Secondary Science School Smolensk Pedagogical Lyceum XIV Highschool in Warsaw Moscow Prakash Higher Secondary School Nada High School Gimnazija ,,Stojan Cerovic" Niksic

Narayana Jr. College, Basheer Bagh, India

1,6561 0,6561

Advanced Educational Scientific Center, M

0,9801 0,9801

Turkmenistan Turgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School

Colgio Integrado Objetivo, So Paulo, Br Pragati Vidya Peeth,Gwalior

Turkmenistan Turgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School

Liceo Scientifico del Cossatese e Valle Str

Points for Problem No 3: 2,7183 Jakub afin

2,5937 SZAB Attila 2,5937 Lars Dehlwes 2,3579 Ion Toloaca 1,9487 Alexandra Vasileva 1,7716 Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella

1,6105 Kohei Kawabata 1,4641 Jakub Supe 1,1 Krzysztof Markiewicz 1,0781 Papimeri Dumitru 1 Nikita Sopenko 1 Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho

1 Jaan Toots 1 Bharadwaj Rallabandi 1 Nadezhda Vartanian 0,8712 Ilie Popanu 0,8712 Petar Tadic 0,72 Dinis Cheian

0,72 Cristian Zanoci 0,72 Rajat Sharma 0,5648 Lorenzo Comoglio Correct solutions (ordered according to the arrival time; best solutions in bold): 1. Lars Dehlwes (Germany) 2. Ion Toloaca (Moldova) 3. Szab Attila (Hungary). 4. Alexandra Vasileva (Russia) 5. Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella (Brazil) 6. Kohei Kawabata (Japan) 7. Jakub Supe (Poland) 8.Papimeri Dumitru (Moldova) 9. Ilie Popanu (Moldova) 10. Petar Tadic (Montenegro) 11. Cristian Zanoci (Moldova) 12. Dinis Cheian (Moldova) 13. Bharadwaj Rallabandi (India) 14. Nadezhda Vartanian (Russia) 15. Nikita Sopenko (Russia) 16. Jakub afin (Slovak)

17. Krzysztof Markiewicz (Poland) 18. Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho (Brazil) 19. Jaan Toots (Estonia)

20. Comoglio Lorenzo (Italy) 21. Rajat Sharma (India) Overall number of registered participants: 214 (from 38 countries). Before the beginning of the final week, the following hints were given: Few hints: you'll be ready to tackle the problem as soon as you understand how the basic formulae of the kinetic theory (formula sheet X-9) are derived;Wikipedia has good enough coverage. And, of course you need the definition of the net heat flux density: it is the difference between the incoming and outgoing thermal energies per unit time and unit surface area. Also, please pay attention that for a molecule, the round trip time (between the plates) is dominated by the period when its velocity is small. This is similar to what happens in a road reconstruction region: the distance between the cars in seconds (the number of cars per minute) remains the same as it was in high-speed regions, hence, the distance in meters will be much smaller (and the density of the cars will be respectively higher). Jaan Kalda Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

In the problem text, it was stated that all numeric prefactors are considered to be acceptable, and thus, the problem was graded generously. Actually, there were only two completely correct answers (by Szab Attila and Jakub the correct Krzysztof Markiewicz). The most common mistake was not noticing that unlike in the case of a normal gas, both for the hot "faction" and cold "faction", the molecules move only in one direction. Hence, the ready formulae, such as projection modulus was or are two times smaller than needed, and the Maxwell velocity distribution , the modulus of the vector ( or ) was used. Meanwhile, the function should be also multiplied by two. Other typical mistakes were that instead of the afin), and two answers which were also flawless except that instead of , approximation was used (Petar Tadic and

should be used when calculating the transferred energy, but in some solutions, there , instead. afin. However, Szab

The best solutions were judged to be those of Szab Attila and Jakub

Attila sent first an approximate solution, which he later corrected late enough to lose his bonus points due to speed. If the best solution bonus would have been divided between these two, Szab

Attila would have got less points than when taking into account his speed bonus. Therefore, he was given his speed bonus, and additionally a double 1.1-factor-bonus for using both his originally submitted and the revised solutions on this web page. And so, the best solution bonus goes entirely to Jakub afin; Petar Tadic and Krzysztof Markiewicz both receive a 1.1-factor-bonus. Finally, Lorenzo Comoglio recieves also a bonus of 1.1: he made a very nice visualization of the process. There are two ways of calculating the frequency of collisions: (a) using the round-trip time, and (b) calculating first the densities of both "factions" of molecules (hot and cold). The solution of Szab Attila follows method (a).

The solution of Jakub

afin is based on calculating the densities of "factions". Also, he makes a

very useful analysis of the results.

The solution of Krzysztof Markiewicz:

The solution of Petar Tadic:

Finally, the initial solution of Szab Attila: while incorrect, the idea itself is very nice, and the mistake is well hidden; so I judged it to be useful to display the first page, and analyse, why the prefactor will be wrong, if calculated in such a way.

Notice the nice trick of introducing

and arranging the molecules according to the values of

Unfortunately, the trick does not work here: re-arranging the order of the molecule speeds does introduce false correlations. In such a way, we create molecules which are always faster than average, and the ones which are slower than average; the amount of transported heat is defined by hot wall, and the round-trip time is defined by after the after the cold wall; so, relatively large amount of heat

would be transported in relatively shorter time, and therefore, the average of the product of the transported heat with the collision frequency would not be equal to the product of the respective averages; however, it would be equal if these two quantities were uncorrelated, as is actually the case!

Problem No 4
There are three point masses m, 2m and 3m, each of which is fixed to a weightless rod; the three rods are of equal length L and are fixed to each other via a connector, which allows a free rotation (frictionless, torque-less) of the rods with respect to each other (so that the angles between the rods will change). Initially the angle between the rods is 120o and the system is motionless; all the rods and point masses lay on the same plane. The heaviest mass (3m) is hit so that it obtains instantaneously a velocity v0, perpendicular to the rod to which it is fixed to and coplanar to the other rods. Determine the accelerations of all three point masses immediately after the point mass 3m was hit. Remark: there is no gravity field, the system can be thought to be in weightlessness, or on frictionless horizontal surface.

Results after Problem 4

The list of the contest leaders after the fourth problem:



Country Hungary Russia Germany Slovak Brazil Moldova Algeria Poland Moldova Russia Moldova Moldova Japan Russia Brazil Moldova India Russia Poland Estonia Japan Montenegro India Japan India Russia

School Le wey Klra High School, Pcs Lyceum No.14, Tambov Ohm-Gymnasium Erlangen Pavol Horov Secondary, Michalovce Colgio Objetivo, Lins, So Paulo Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Preparatory School for Science & Technology of Annaba 14th School of Stanis aw Staszic, Warsaw liceul "Mircea Eliade" Lyceum "Second School", Moscow Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Nada High School Smolensk Pedagogical Lyceum Colgio Integrado Objetivo, Barueri, Brazil Lyceuum "Orizont", Chisinau Narayana Jr. College, Basheer Bagh, India Gymnasium of Ramenskoye XIV Highschool in Warsaw Tallinn Secondary Science School Nada high school Gimnazija ,,Stojan Cerovic" Niksic Vidyadham Junior, Hyderabad Nada High School Prakash Higher Secondary School Advanced Educational Scientific Center, MSU, Moscow

Physics teacher

10,157 SZAB Attila 7,6476 Nikita Sopenko 6,8666 Lars Dehlwes 6,7301 Jakub 6,0833 afin Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho

Simon Pter, Dr Kote Martin Perleth Jozef Smrek

Valeriy Vladimirovich

6,0244 Ilie Popanu 5,6695 Brahim Saadi 5,1968 Jakub Supe 5,0589 Ion Toloaca 4,919 Alexandra Vasileva 4,1057 Dinis Cheian 3,9424 Papimeri Dumitru 3,8105 Kohei Kawabata 3,7997 Nadezhda Vartanian 3,7517 Lus Gustavo Lapinha Dalla Stella

Igor Evtodiev Derradji Nasreddine W odzimierz Zielicz Simboteanu A.R. Zilberman, G.F. Arabuly Igor Evtodiev Igor Evtodiev

Igor Iurevici Nemtov;

Mishchenko Andrei A Ronaldo Fogo Igor Evtodiev Vyom Sekhar Singh Robert Stasiak Toomas Reimann Ana Vujacic Manikanta Kumar T.Hamaguchi

3,4738 Cristian Zanoci 3,4205 Bharadwaj Rallabandi 2,5937 Mikhail Shirkin 2,1 Krzysztof Markiewicz 2 Jaan Toots 1,4641 Hideki Yukawa 1,3896 Petar Tadic 1,21 Midhul Varma 1 Task Ohmori 1 Sharad Mirani 1 Lev Ginzburg 0,9801 Mekan Toyjanow 0,81 Meylis Malikov 0,81 Liara Guinsberg 0,792 Ulysse Lojkine 0,72 Rajat Sharma 0,5648 Ng Fei Chong 0,5648 Lorenzo Comoglio Points for Problem No 4:

Petrova Elena Georgy

Ruchi Sadana, Sunil S

I.V. Lukjanov, S.N. O Halit Coshkun Halit Coshkun M. Lacas Mr. Rakesh Ranjan

Turkmenistan Turgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School Turkmenistan Turgut Ozal Turkmen Turkish High School Brazil France India Malaysia Italy Lyce Henri IV, Paris Pragati Vidya Peeth,Gwalior SMJK Chung Ling, Penang

Colgio Integrado Objetivo, So Paulo, Brazil Ronaldo Fogo

Liceo Scientifico del Cossatese e Valle Strona Chiara Bandini

2,7183 Ilie Popanu 2,5937 SZAB Attila 2,1436 Nikita Sopenko 2,1436 Nadezhda Vartanian 2,1222 Jakub Supe 1,6105 Bharadwaj Rallabandi 1,5944 Lars Dehlwes 1,4641 Hideki Yukawa 1,2755 Jakub afin 1,21 Midhul Varma 1,1 Papimeri Dumitru 1,1 Kohei Kawabata 1 Alexandra Vasileva 1 Cristian Zanoci 1 Krzysztof Markiewicz 0,891 Ion Toloaca 0,792 Dinis Cheian 0,792 Ulysse Lojkine 0,648 Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho

0,5648 Ng Fei Chong 0,5184 Petar Tadic Correct solutions (ordered according to the arrival time; best solutions in bold): 1. Szab Attila (Hungary) 2. Jakub Supe (Poland) 3. Nadezhda Vartanian (Russia) 4. Nikita Sopenko (Russia) 5. Lars Dehlwes (Germany) 6. Ilie Popanu (Moldova) 7. Jakub afin (Slovak)

8. Bharadwaj Rallabandi (India) 9. Hideki Yukawa (Japan)

10. Midhul Varma (India) 11. Dinis Cheian (Moldova) 12. Ion Toloaca (Moldova) 13. Kohei Kawabata (Japan) 14. Cristian Zanoci (Moldova) 15. Ng Fei Chong (Malaysia) 16. Alexandra Vasileva (Russia) 17. Papimeri Dumitru (Moldova) 18. Krzysztof Markiewicz (Poland) 19. Ivan Tadeu Ferreira Antunes Filho (Brazil) 20. Petar Tadic (Montenegro) 21. Ulysse Lojkine (France) The number of incorrect solutions: 13 The overall number of registered participants: 238 from 41 countries

For the last two weeks, a small hint was given: it is helpful to consider the motion of the balls in the connector frame of reference. For the last three days, relatively detailed hints were given: (1) Note that in the lab system of reference, there is only one force applied to each of the balls: the rod tension. Due to the Newton II law, once you know the tensions, you can obtain immediately the accelerations. (2) Force balance for the connector allows you to find, how the tensions in different rods are related to each other, ie. to express T2 and T3 in terms of T1. (3) In order to advance further with the solution, it is helpful to consider the motion of the balls in the connector frame of reference, where they perform circular motions: the radial (centripetal) acceleration is caused by the the tension in rod, together with the force of inertia; the tangential acceleration is caused only by the force of inertia (because there is no bending stress in the rods). So, you have three equations (the force balance for each of the balls, projected onto the direction of the respective rod), and three unknowns (two components of the connector acceleration, and the tension T1. This system can be solved geometrically, arithmetically using trigonometric functions, or performing symbolic vectorial calculations; the length of the solution depends on the route you choose.

This problem turned out to be a really good one, because the contestants came up with so many different solutions. This time, let us start with the solution, and at the end we'll count the points. The first step towards the solution is showing that all the rod tensions are equal; this is an unavoidable step, unless you derive the the relationship between the ball accelerations from the conservation of linear momentum as was done by Ulyss Lojkine:

Another way of avoiding that first step is to apply Lagrangian formalism, as was done by Lars Dehlwes, Papimeri Dumitru, Cristian Zanoci and Dinis Cheian. This is a "brute force" approach, which is definitely a solid way of doing it, but be prepared for long calculations, where a single small mistake can invalidate your results (to be on a safe side, don't forget to check the absence of mistakes by checking the validity of the conservation laws!). In order to give you an idea about the amount work needed for this approach, here is a link to the Papimeri Dumitru's solution. While most of the contestants, indeed, used the fact that the rod tensions are equal, very few cared to show it properly; the clearest (and simple) proof is provided by Ion Toloaca:

The next step is showing that initially, the connector is at rest; while most of the contestants implicitly assumed it (perhaps assuming it to be obvious), very few cared to prove it. This is, again, best done by Ion Toloaca:

The final and most difficult step is solving the force balance problem in the connector's frame of reference(which is non-inertial, moving with an acceleration centripetal acceleration due to the joint effect of the inertial force ( ), where the masses obtain ) and the rod tension. This

can be done geometrically; an elegant way of doing it is once again provided by Ion Toloaca:

It can be also done by solving an algebraic system of equations, as was, for instance, done by Ng Fei Chong:

Alternatively, you can solve a trigonometric system of equation; example is contributed by Kohei Kawabata:

Finally, you can treat the force balance vectorially, and this is the advertised shortest solution! How it can be done is demonstrated by Ilie Popanu:

His writing, however, includes some redundant lines, so let us do it once again. Let us introduce unit vectors along the rods, rod, can be written as . Then, the Newton second law, as projected to the direction of the

where up with

are the ball masses (

) and

the velocities ( before the braces, we end

). Adding up these three equations and bringing

Now, since

, we obtain immediately

So, what is the lesson from here? First, using vector calculus saves often a lot of mathematical work. Second, in order to preserve the symmetry of the problem, it may be helpful to use over-determined vector basis (two vectors would have been enough, but we used three, ). afin,

It should be noted that another person to apply efficiently vector calculus was Jakub arbitrary, and all the masses move.

who actually solved a more general problem, when the masses and angles between the rods are

This (and even more general) result can be actually obtained quite easily by generalizing the vector approach explained above. To begin with, we need to generalize the relationship between the rod tensions to the case when the angles are not equal. Bharadwaj Rallabandi has actually dug out an appropriate theorem, which is nothing more than a sine theorem for the triangle of vectors (representing the force balance for the connector):

So, we can write vectors and

, where

is the diameter of the circumcircle of the triangle of

is the angle between the two rods excluding the i-th one. Similarly

to what we did above, the force balance for the balls is written as

and we want to eliminate as

from this system of equations. We can use the same trick as above and add up, to obtain

(adding equations), if we make use of the sine theorem, expressed in vector form . So, we multiply the equations by

Finally, the acceleration of the j-th body is given by

Before we proceed to counting the points, there are nice and very original solutions contributed by Nikita Sopenko and Hideki Yukawa. First, the solution of Nikita Sopenko:

Here he actually manages to solve the problem without using a non-inertial system of reference, and applies a nice trick of finding the projection of a vector to an axis while knowing its projection to two

other directions. And finally, the solution of Hideki Yukawa:

Few comments are needed here. First, I added a red arrow indicating the acceleration of the connector in the 's reference frame; in that frame of reference, the connector rotates, so the projection of its , which happens to be the height of the triangle in his figure. acceleration to the rod direction is

Finally, the height equals to the sum of the connector's distances to the sides of the triangle because the triangle area can be represented as the sum of the areas of the three smaller triangles, formed by the connector and the triangle vertices. And that's it, we are ready to count the points. The results are impressive, there are many candidates for the best solution: Ilie Popanu, Jakub afin, Hideki Yukawa, Nikita Sopenko, Ion Toloaca. One possibility would be to divide the bonus between them, but then there would be a

problem: Ilie Popanu submitted his first solution quite early, but his short version was sent when there was no speed bonus left; as a result, for him a partial best-solution-bonus would be smaller than his original speed bonus. So I decided to give the full bonus of the best solution to Ilie Popanu; everyone else (mentioned in bold text above) will receive a bonus of 1.1. Jaan Kalda, Academic Committee of IPhO-2012

Problem No 5
Determine all the eigenfrequencies (=natural frequencies) of the circuit shown in Figure. You may assume that all the capacitors and inductances are ideal, and that the following strong inequalities are satisfied: strong inequalities. , and . Note that your answers need to be simplified according to these