- July, 19, 1999 -
Supplement to the n.3 of "La Fisica nella Scuola"
Managing Director: Luigi Brasini





The presence in Padua of so many students is a reason of great hope for the future.

The XXX IPhO - 30th International Physics Olympiad Padua, July 18 - 27 1999 - represent a unique occasion to draw attention on the teaching of a subject which is to be considered fondamental in the basic culture of all the Countries within the "society of communication and information".

The continuous rise in the number of nations which annually participate in this event - and the great interest displayed by the 66 Countries that have joined the first International Physics Olympiad in Italy - are a further proof of the increasing importance which is given to the study of experimental disciplines, and of Physics in particular, at an international level.

The presence in Padua of so many students, coming even from the furthest Countries, to compete in the solution of problems regarding different aspects of Physics, which require creativity, originality and brightness, is a reason of great hope for the future.

Moreover, the presence of many Physics teachers committed in Physics didactics, eager to share the experiences and the teaching methods adopted by the different Countries, is also particularly significant!

A big thank you to all the people who have given their personal contribute for the success of this event, and above all to the Association for the Physics Education (A.I.F.), which has been taking care of the selection and the training of the Italian representatives for over 10 years.

I wish to all the students called to take part in the Physics Olympiad, to live an extraordinary experience which is to be of enormous help in their cultural and professional choices still to come.

On. Luigi Berlinguer
Minister of the Public Education


Photo of Giustina Mistrello Destro A WELCOME FROM THE MAYOR OF PADUA

It is a great pleasure for me and for the whole city of Padua to send greetings and good wishes to the students from the 66 Countries of the world that are taking part in the 30th International Physics Olympiad this year.

I know that these boys and girls are the best students in their countries as they have been chosen after a series of accurate tests prepared by teachers of universities and Ministries of Education. Their work and their efforts will surely be rewarded as those students will become responsible citizens able to answer with conscience and competence to the demands from the labour market.

I am honuored by the choice of Padua for the 30th International Physics Olympiad not only because my city has got a great tradition of research and scientific formation in its university, but also for the importance reached, in the region of Veneto, by a qualified undertaking which shares, with its highly advanced technology, the same purposes of innovation and scientific formation development as the International Physics Olympiad have got.

I thank the Association for the Physics Education (A.I.F.) for the efforts made to organize this event, to assure its scientific quality, to make it become for students from all over the world a great experience of collaboration and friendship.

I am certain that my fellow citizens will be curious and interested in all the events offered by the International Physics Olympiad and so 1 wish all guests not only a happy staying with us, but even a pleasant recollection of Padua.

Giustina Mistrello Destro,
Mayor of Padua



When we talk about the PHYSICS OLYMPIC GAMES it is not rare to feel around those who mention them a sense of perplexity or even of irony. In fact, most of the people intend for OLYMPIC GAMES an essentially sporting meeting, the biggest sporting show of the world indeed, the one, which compares the greatest sport champions. Almost everyone wonders which is the connection between PHYSICS and SPORT.

The question is right and relevant and the answer is hard if we only dwell upon the mere sporting competition, though at the highest technical rank.

If, however, with that magical and mythical name, we refer to a regular appointment of the best young people in the world who compare themselves in a Competition in which they can express their best resources, not only with their body but also with their intelligence, fantasy, will and tenacity, in a loyal and friendly atmosphere aimed to pursue the progress of mankind and society, well, in that case, the embarrassment in front of the question fades away.

In fact with these premises we can draw the myth of Olympia close to that one of Physics. That Physics which, anyway like Sport, finds its historical background exactly in the Hellenic world.

We are proud that our country has been given the chance to organise for 1999, in occasion of the thirty-year anniversary, this meeting, just in coincidence with the entry of Italy in the Europe of MAASTRICHT, object we have attained thanks to the resolute Government politics and, above all, to the sacrifices of all the Italians.

This is an important occasion which has come up again Italy to the school universe, allowing the students and the teachers from all over the world to get to know our nation, to appreciate its beauties and to test which ferments are, at last, animating the Italian school.

It is a question of great satisfaction for the A.I.F. - Association for the Physics Education - which I have the honour to chair and represent, to have been chosen for the organisation of this prestigious meeting.

It is an acknowledgement which pays back for the big and sometimes spasmodical commitment given in these years with generosity and unselfishness to all our members, whether they are single or in group, of which the A.I.F. is composed. These members with their consent and enthusiasm have supported and urged us so much that we have undertaken some commitments which seemed pure madness for the difficulties shown, almost beyond our strength.

We now would like to thank for this trust the Ministry of Public Education who, above representing the whole country, is the eminent exponent of the Culture world, and all his Collaborators, dr. Augenti and dr. Latino in primis, valiant and unselfish executives of the Ministry, who have permitted this synergy between national and private, dr. Martinez who, taking the place of dr. Augenti in the General Department of the Cultural Exchange, has welcomed with enthusiasm and generosity the inheritance received and we would like to thank all his collaborators who have been able to show that, when we work for a common interest, no aim is impossible.

Our thanks go also to the city of Padua and to its prestigious Physics Department of the University, that with its glorious and old tradition has fully understood the cultural and scientific importance of the Physics Olympic Games.

We guarantee the A.I.F. commitment and we are sure that Italy will distinguish itself both in the " athletics" level with its valiant students and teachers and in the "organising" level, showing in this way to deserve completely the confidence enjoyed among the European "partners" and the cultural environments of the whole world.

Carla Romagnino,
A.I.F. President



It is for me a great honour to welcome the students participating to the XXX International Physics Olympiad, the tutors and the delegates from so many Countries all over the world.

The Physics Olympiad takes place in Italy for the first time and the choice of Padua has been a particularly good one, in view of the pastand present history.

Research in fundamental physics is very active in Padua; limiting the quotations just to the second half of this century, we find a constant presence in most of the frontier experiments, from early cosmic ray physics and nuclear physics to the recent participation in the discovery of W and Z bosons and of the top quark.

On a more general context the Padua University is one of the most prestigious Italian Universities. Founded in 1222, it reaches in the XVI century an outstanding position in science: medical science, witht he first systematic description of human anatomy, botanical science with the foundation of the first Orto Botanico, physical science with the experimental method of Galileo. This tradition of excellence has been maintained in the following centuries and in our days Padua University is still one of the most important cultural centres in Italy.

Coming back to the Physics Olympiad, I hope that a side from the competition that is the focal point of this week you can enjoy your staying in Padua and in this region. The Organizing Committee has done an impressive job in both directions, the competition and the entertainment, and I want to thank them in this official occasion, as well as many people, from high schools and departments, involved in this enterprise.

I thank also all the institutions that contributed to this event: the Italian Ministry of Public Education, the Ministry of University, the Association for Physics Education, the Italian Physical Society, the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, the Municipality of Padua, the University of Padua, and I am very glad to see their representatives at this opening ceremony.

Prof. Cesare Voci,
Director of Department of Physics in the University of Padua



We live in a special historical period as the world is changing so rapidly. To be able to develop, produce and use correctly top technology products we all must have an understanding and knowledge of physics. In such sense the science education plays a role most important for the citizen of tomorrow. Moreover science and the rational method of science are a good basis for understanding and collaborating among people of different traditions and cultures and the Olympiad is a good example for that. We are aware of the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Education in order to make of this subject a core for the cultural basic education of youngest and we'll give our full support to those projects oriented to the improvement and innovation of Physics Teaching.

In the Italian edition of the IPhO we have the pleasure to welcome Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Liechtenstein, Mongolia and Turkmenistan as new participants and the observers form Brazil, Pakistan and Uzbekistan .

Also we see with pleasure the return among us of Cuba, Phylippines and Kuwait.

The change in the world, and in Europe too, have as consequence some deterioration of the world economy. In our case that means that it took a long time and a big effort to plan the XXX IPhO. It was also with your generous help and with a great deal of patience and optimism that could be scheduled the lot of events as you have seen from the program so that you can enjoy this Olympiad.

This year Italy is celebrating the second centenary of the Volta battery. A large number of events carry it in their logo and the IPhO is one of them. We are glad to include you in this important celebration.

On behalf of the organizing committee I wish you once more welcome to our country and hope that you all will have a very pleasant time here.

Giuliana Cavaggioni,
XXX IPhO Executive Director


Click to tahe a big version (62KB) Today an interesting and curious visit


A remarkable Collection of scientific instruments from the 16th to the 20th century.

The University of Padua, that boasts a glorious past, owns a remarkable Collection of scientific instruments from the 16th to the 20th century. The Collection, which counts more than 1000 pieces, is partially housed in a building close to the Physics Department.

The most antique part of the Collection comprises precious instruments from the 16th and 17th centuries, including an armillary sphere, other mathematical instruments, some sundials and a prestigious astrolabe made by Arsenius Regner, the famous Flemish instrument maker, in 1566.

Another pride of the Collection is a group of five microscopes from the 17th century, one of them signed by Eustachio Divini, a celebrated roman optician.

The heart of the Collection as such was created in 1740 by Giovanni Poleni, founder and first director of the "Theater of Experimental Philosophy", one of the first laboratories for research and teaching of Physics after the style of the Flemish Universities (Utrecht and Leiden). At present, about one hundred instruments are extant from the Poleni Collection, out of about 400 existing in the 18th century.

They cover the whole range of subjects related to Physics: Mechanics, Optics, Hydrodynamics, Vacuum Technique and so on. It is worth mentioning that some of them were bought from the most renowned european instrument makers and scientist, like Musschenbroek and Nollet.

After Poleni, in the course of two centuries, the University Collection was enriched with instruments, mainly pertaining to Electricity and Optics, built by skilled technicians of the University, or bought from the most famous instrument makers, as, for instance, Amici, Dollond, Ruhmkorff, Duboscq-Soleil, Siemens. A particular interest may be attached to some instruments made around 1830 by Lepoldo Nobili, the inventor of the astatic galvanometer and first in studying the properties of infrared radiation in collaboration with Macedonio Melloni.

A series of electrostatic machines, dated from 1770 to 1910, includes one used by Augusto Righi in 1886 for his pioneering experiments on hertzian waves.

The most recent important acquisition is the first european bubble chamber, built in Padua and operated at CERN in 1957.

prof. GianAntonio Salandin,
Director of Physics Museum
University of Padua