Perse student scoops Institute of Physics Prize
Year 11 student, Pratap Singh, has been awarded the Institute of Physics Prize (IOP) at the Big Bang Fair.
His project to verify an effect of special relativity gained him one of the prizes awarded at the finals of the National Science and Engineering Competition at the fair, which was held at the NEC in Birmingham on 11-14 March. Over 200 students competed in the final of the competition, demonstrating their projects to the fair’s visitors.
Pratap’s experiment used two Geiger-Müller tubes to detect cosmic-ray muons, which should not reach the Earth in detectable numbers unless time dilation occurs. He created a mathematical model for their arrival rate and without time dilation. Using a Raspberry Pi and some statistical analysis, he showed that they follow the model predicted by special relativity.
He said: “I am absolutely thrilled to have won the IOP prize. I have always been very interested in physics and so when it came to the time for my research project – a year-long opportunity we get at our school to study any topic of our choosing – I of course wanted to do something in physics. I am especially happy that over the course of this project I was able to bring together the theory, create a mathematical model, and using just school physics lab equipment build an apparatus to observe relativistic time dilation.”
Head of Physics at The Perse School, David Tricker commented: “Pratap’s project to verify the effects of Special Relativity in the school laboratory was highly ambitious, combining elegant experimental work with intellectually challenging theoretical modelling. I am absolutely delighted to see his deeply impressive work being recognised in this national award.”
Pratap’s experiment has earned him a £500 prize and a trip to a national physics-related activity. His project also saw him be awarded the Intermediate Science and Maths Prize at the competition for his cosmic-muon project. He was presented with his prizes at the National Awards Ceremony on 12 March.
Johanna Kieniewicz, the IOP’s head of outreach and engagement and one of the judges of the prize said: “”I’d like to congratulate Pratap Singh on winning the Institute of Physics prize with his outstanding project. He demonstrated remarkable creativity in his approach to the problem, bringing together theory grounded in robust science with practical ingenuity.”
To add to this achievement, an article Pratap wrote on his experiment entitled: ‘Special relativity in the school laboratory: a simple apparatus for cosmic-ray muon detection’ has recently been accepted for publication in Physics Education, a journal published by the IOP.