The young physics students who represented the country in Munich – Prensa Libre

From May 5 to 8, 2022, six students of the Bachelor of Physics from the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) participated in the competition Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-ass Students (Plancks), organized by the University of MunichGermany, which has promoted an annual meeting of physicists from different parts of the world each year.

For this year’s edition, delegations from 33 countries. Of these, four were from Latin America: Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Guatemala. For our country they appeared Gabriel Barrios, Dulce Calán, Javier de León, José García, Alejandro Barillas and Marisol Castellanoswho have between 21 and 23 years oldand study the fourth and fifth year of the degree in the USAC.

The arrival of the six Guatemalans at Plancks in Munich is part of a story that began in 2020, when Castellanos was vice president of the Association of Physics and Mathematics Students of the said university. That year, its members were invited to be part of the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS).

Castellanos explains that this new instance allowed USAC students to join activities with colleagues from Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador —the only ones four Latin Americans belonging to the IAPS—. The call allowed for a contest to be held in which each country could send a representative group to Plancks in the present year.

From that account, and after a competition that brought together 200 Physics students in Guatemalathere were four who stood out with the best grades from exams that tested knowledge in Classical, quantum, thermodynamic and electromagnetic physics. As a result of their good results, Barrios, Calán, De León and García were able to qualify.

During their stay, they were accompanied by Barillas and Castellanos, who took part as observers of the Guatemalan team and They also gave a presentation on their scientific research processes. Throughout the activity of Plancks, the nationals participated in a program of visits to laboratories and research centersincluding those of the University of Munich.

On the third day there was a competitionwhich consisted of a 10 problem test that had to be answered by all the international delegations. To solve it, they had four hours, pencil, a calculator and a notebook. Without the internet, cell phones or computers, the young people faced their own knowledge.

The participants were able to share in workshops and talks with specialists from other countries at Plancks 2022. (Photo Prensa Libre: Courtesy Marisol Castellanos)

“This gives the boys an opportunity to discover other forms of solve problems. In addition, it encourages more connections between the group from various prospects”, pointed out Castellanos, who served as leader of the Guatemalan team.

In addition to the competition, the young people participated in workshops and talks with scientists from other countries, including the 2020 Nobel laureate in Physics, Reinhard Genzel. Activities under Plancks achieved inspire Guatemalan physicists in terms of the possibilities of holding more meetings of this type, as well as claiming attention to the sciences.

The participation of Guatemalans in Munich could also be a reflection of the potential in the country. According to Castellanos, the field of Physics is very broad and can provide improvements to our context.

“This branch can help us understand how everything around us behaves: from the smallest to the largest. It is necessary to understand that for every country science is vital. A country without science cannot move alongsince it implies a generation of knowledgeand Physics can achieve that”, he concluded.

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The young physics students who represented the country in Munich – Prensa Libre