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Road to Gold: Physics Olympiads

Hi, I love physics, and I hope to participate in the British Physics Olympiad Round 1 (hoping for Round 2 if I can!! Perhaps even further than that but I doubt internationals can go into camp), Physics Brawl, and the Online Physics Olympiad before going to uni. I'm in Y13 so I have 9 months left, but I hope it'll be a fun one :biggrin:

You might ask why I am not doing this on AoPS. That's cuz I want prizes :eyes: but also I wanna try blogging and the one I tried in AoPS Blogs is so dead, perhaps this won't be less dead :smile: (Sadge I'm not even 1% as successful as some people like v4913 and all the orz people there. Like who tf is gonna use AoPS if the people there are Olympiad gold medalists that represents their countries every year in prestigious International Olympiads :sob:smile: +I'm preparing for the PAT and BPhO and A Level Physics and stuff so I'll likely find similar peeps here, we can help one another!

I'll be listing goals I set myself (do make me stick to them!), talking about my experiences with Olympiads, and documenting my progress through notes as I study physics Olympiad books.

I'm a busy dude with questionable efficacy in doing schoolwork so I may be slow to reply to messages and post stuff, but I'll start by giving myself a commitment: I'll try to post an update once every time I finish a big topic recapping what I learned, and once every week recapping the procrastination I did lmao + physics I've done + plans for next week.

I hope this will work out! :smile:

Info about me:


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How's life catching guys and gals, it's Saturday and time to plan for the week ahead!

This Week Highlights:
Tuesday: I passed my driving test! I can collect my driving license on the 29th, but my mom will be busy and we can only do it on Saturday. Also my house won the Quarterfinals War of Words (which I've done little to contribute lmaooo)
Wednesday: Performed Maple Leaf Rag at school. It's floating around Youtube with 23 views ahhaaahahhah :smile:

This week I learned in physics:
-Blundell and Blundell Part III on Transport and Thermal Diffusion, still have like half of the rest of chapter 10.
What's cool about it is that Blundell^2 treated viscosity, thermal conductivity and diffusion as the transport of momentum, energy and particles respectively (as a part of Kinetic Theory), and thus they have almost the same equation. Pretty dab way to understand it. It just sucks that it's easily forgettable and I've already forgotten about it :frown:

Notes I made:
Blundell Chapter 9
Blundell Chapter 10

Next Week Activities:
Sunday: I'm going to have to complete the Brag Sheet that is due this day, after 2 weeks of procrastination AAaaaaAAAhhhhHHHH. This should be the only thing I do if I can only do one thing this day. It's a template for US essays, which sucks cuz I'm not a fully formed human being that had explicitly contributed to my community in any way, nor do I have many EC's.
Monday: Our Personal Statement is due this day for Oxbridge applicants. I'll meet with my teacher at lunch to go over my personal statement, which I don't really care about anymore after finishing the 3rd draft and decided that if it's good enough it's good enough and not worth spending more time worrying over.
Saturday morning: get to school at 7.45 am, sit the SAT for 4 hours (MIT needs it :bawling:), then collect my driving license in the afternoon

-Brag sheet, SAT prep (I'm screwed)
-~War of Words, debating on AI stuff~ Tuesday lunch
-US College Essays: I'll apply to MIT
-PAT, BPhO, Physics Brawl, Beamline for schools (?)

For Physics Olympiads:
I will definitely need to brush up on my thermodynamics, and also learn quantum mechanics and special relativity properly.
Thermodynamics: Blundell and Blundell (quite nice but I don't get the point of some of the later stuff in Kinetic Theory lmao), Wang and Ricardo Chapters 3 and 4 (read chapter 2 and it's pretty cool actually)
Quantum Mechanics and Particle Physics: Halliday Resnick Krane Chapters 45-52 (important stuff)
Special Relativity: Morin Chapter 12 and 13
Lol if any of them piqued my interest at the moment I'm gonna make a commitment

Crazy next week, with SAT and US essays. Fun fact: if I got into MIT, I'm withdrawing Oxford for physics :0 but unlikely - my mock PAT scores are good and my ECs lacking so yea. Catch ya later!
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Someone make me do the Brag Sheet, I'm procrastinating on the Physics Olympiad Discord Server doing a kinetic theory problem
(For part (b), my mans Baiyu Zhu called my method [] less rigged than the official solution sent by idonthaveausername and Guangyuan thinks it's chad :flushed: - icl they are so humble yet so smart)

Ok, no more procrastination, commitment for today, 25 September:
Complete Brag Sheet before dinner time.
I wouldn't be able to finish it by the deadline I think

By the way, it seems like there are prizes for giving advice. Well, I had been involved with Olympiads since Y9 but I'm not that good to be very honest. But I can try :smile: I can also help with any physics Olympiad questions you'd like me to do.
As a starter for offering help while procrastinating on my brag sheet:

Here’s my solutions to the PAT 2021, which isn’t on PMT:
I crossed checked it with my teacher and a friend and I think it’s accurate after some patching up. I hope you guys find it helpful!

I’ve just done the rest of the BPhO Round 2 2020 solutions
The solutions isn’t on the BPhO website. Hope this will help, but do be careful because I haven’t checked my answers with anyone!

Next up is probably my notes for chapter 3 of Wang and Ricardo volume 2 :tongue:
(edited 1 year ago)
Life update: The brag sheet feels so pointless that I couldn't be bothered to put the mental effort to type the other half up. I'm so screwed :frown:
I spent the last 45 minutes typing out 3 or 4 more questions. I'm tired now and in need of brushing teeth and sleeping.

Good night! (In case you're wondering I live in GMT 8)

Update at 12.54 am: awake after completing BPhO R2 2020 solutions. Feels awesome, until tomorrow where I’ll be so tired. I have to wake up at 5.20 am :skull:

Update at 5.53 am: I’m so tired :skull:

Update at 6.23 am: Still 30 minutes before school but I'm still tired.AND my brag sheet is incomplete. I need vto finish it off but I wanna sleep on this bench.
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Life crisis at 6.31 am when a friend who's crazy good at physics also has a life and does epic music things and helps her community and also takes care of her eyes unlike me who is short-sighted and does nothing other than study and cries alone at home
Chilling at 9.50 am
Nothing to do, perhaps read about Clausius’s inequality

Update 10.06 am: went on a stroll instead, didn’t study :skull:
Shame on me

1.10 pm: Study period. Calm OwO

~7 pm dam I slept just when I was about to read and digest properly the proof for Clausius’ inequality

10 pm: woke up lol
10.15 pm realization: Debating is not for me. I don’t even feel like we answered the motion tbf but I genuinely don’t know how debating work :frown:
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Life crisis at 10.31 pm when I am actually surprised how I haven’t broken down or had some time when I declare any sort of mental health issue or anything given how little I do anything other than study, sleep, be present and be presentable in school.
Boredom at 12.30 am: cuz no one is replying to my blog :,)
Why is school so tiring bruh, I want to sleep and all. I don't know how people catch up with new content and handle meetings and all sorts of responsibilities and have a life at the same time :skull:

6.27 am update: Last night I had a pretty fascinating idea on reversibility of processes (=a process by which you can reverse the system from its final state back to its initial state without changing its surroundings. An example is lifting an object - that's reversible and lifting it back doesn't change the universe, but breaking an eggshell is irreversible since if you want to put it back, you'll need to use high tech molecular gluing back to piece it together because of all the mess. Note that 'irreversible' in a thermo context doesn't mean that it is impossible to reverse, it just takes so much effort to put it back that the universe cannot go back to its original state if you did the irrreversible thing). So since reversibility satisfies these 3 rules (perhaps they seem arbitrary and obvious but they are picked deliberately):

1. The process from state A to A is reversible (just do nothing)
2. If the process from states A to B is reversible, B to A is reversible
3. If process from A to B is reversible, and process from B to C is reversible, then process from A to C is reversible. [By definition, you can go from C back to B, then from B back to A, and have nothing changed.]

This is an equivalence relation! (Go read it up. If a binary relation satisfies these 3 properties above, then it is an equivalence relation and the wonderful thing is that you can partition all elements in the universal set into disjoint (=non overlapping) sets.)

A number of corollaries appear that can help me I guess:
- If a process A to B is irreversible, then in a reversible cycle (a cycle where each step can be reversed) A1,A2,A3,...,An,A1 ; process A to B can never happen. Otherwise the cycle will have an irreversible process, and if we assume that the cycle is reversible, then you can show that there is a contradiction because somehow you can cycle reversibly from B to A. [OK I'll need to think of this a bit harder but I'm getting there]
4.38 pm update: I'm tired. Finishing off maths hw and then I need to chill
Also congrats to our debators that won the semifinals :0 (I did basically nothing lol)

4:51 pm update: oh my physics teacher knows Mr Robin Hughes and have met Dr Anson Cheung a few times :skull:
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9.19 pm update: checing if TSR supports \[ \LaTeX \]
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12.30 am update:
Do you think I should get a best friend, I hadn't visited this concept since 13 or before
Then again I get exhausted around people super easily and have nothing to talk about or engage with
6.32 am update: Clausius' inequality is so cool. Entropy is so cool. Now I understand why in order to calculate the entropy change of a system, we calculate the quantity ∫dQ/T through a reversible cycle, which isn't explained in Halliday Resnick Krane :0 (this is cuz if a system undergoes a reversible cyclic process, ∳dQ/T = 0. Thus ∫dQ/T along any reversible path from states 1 to 2 is independent of whichever path you took! We define the change in entropy ΔS = ∫dQ/T from states 1 to 2, and extend it to be independent of the path and only dependent on the initial and final states 1 and 2 even if it is not reversible.)
4.33 pm update: someone message here pls it’s so quiet lol :,)
1.45 am Physics update:

I have a small epiphany on the idea of thermodynamic reversibility. So by Wang and Ricardo's definition of reversibility, a system undergoing a reversible change can be reversed such that it leaves no traces on the environment. You can imagine labelling all the motion and properties of the objects in the universe at an instant of time to describe the state of the universe at that instant - call one such state as A, then imagine a reversible reaction happens and the universe turns into state B. By definition of a reversible reaction, the universe can turn back into state A (system returns to initial state AND universe is undisturbed). Hence let us denote M1 as the set of all possible states M such that A to M consists of a set of reversible processes. Each member in the set M1 can be processed into another member of the set through a reversible process.

Now imagine that somewhere in the universe that is in state A, an irreversible process occurs and the universe goes to state A'. By definition, we couldn't perform any feasible processes to revert back to A. In fact, we can't ever revert back to any member of set M1, since if we could then we can revert to a member of M1 and then revert back to A, a contradiction. Hence we basically cannot return to M1 anymore. But we can go from A' and perform reversible processes. And you can also have a set M2 of all possible states where A' can turn into reversibly.

Notice how the possible states of the universe can go in one direction from M1 to M2 and so on, but cannot reverse back. Isn't this almost the statement of how entropy can only increase not decrease? :0 We just need to state what are the irreversible processes (which are Kelvin-Planck's and Clausius' statements) so that we can have the second law of thermodynamics, and thus derive that there is a quantity S (entropy) of a closed system or universe that is always increasing.
7.27 am update: Done nuffink productive this morning, just chilling but still not chilled out rn lol. I just can't seem to chill, I gotta have a plan of action for the week.
I haven't finish brag sheet :skull:
I also almost finished with chapter 3 Wang and Ricardo, I just gotta practice the problems now. I feel like learning QM instead at the moment lol
Well done for passing your driving test! :biggrin:
+ good luck for all the physics , when’s the Olympiad?
Original post by Tc_33
9.19 pm update: checing if TSR supports \[ \LaTeX \]

yesitdoesyes it does :ninja:
(edited 1 year ago)

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