For young people who love science, being chosen to attend the International Summer School for Young Physicists (ISSYP) at the Perimeter Institute (PI) for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, is a thrill and a unique privilege. This past summer, Vanier Honours Science student, Andrei Lupu, competed against hundreds of students from all over the world, to be one of 40 chosen to live an unforgettable experience during two weeks at the institute.
Established in 1999 by Mike Lazaridis, the founder of Research In Motion (RIM) – maker of the Blackberry, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is a basic research centre dedicated to exploring the world at its most fundamental level. The ISSYP is a challenging two-week program for Canadian and international students who have a keen interest in theoretical physics and intend to pursue physics studies at the university level.
Meeting like-minded students
While at PI for two weeks in July, Andrei participated in small group mentoring sessions led by international theoretical physicists, attended presentations on string theory, quantum computing and black holes, and took physics courses to deepen insight into Einstein’s ideas and quantum theory. Above all, he made friends with some of the brightest young physics minds from around the world. “I met students who are more involved than most – some were already doing research at different levels. It was very inspiring and motivating. We’ve already formed a Facebook group and some of us are going to build a team to compete in a Princeton online Physics competition.”
One of the highlights of the summer school was a visit to SNOLAB – the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Lab. “It was a really amazing experience,” exclaims Andrei. “We went down an elevator for 15 minutes to two kilometers under the earth then through a working mine to reach the lab. Once there we had to shower and change into sterile clothing and then go through a super clean room. It was impressive: all the rooms were painted with special paint to black out any radioactivity which could interfere with the readings being taken by the lab.”
An environment designed to inspire collaboration
“At the Perimeter Institute everything went beyond my expectations. I not only gained new knowledge in physics but I got to see how research is truly done. Everything is designed to help collaboration and research. There were couches in a lounge with a wall filled with blackboards so that people could easily work together on problems. Tables had pencils and paper ready for group get-togethers, and even the corridors had blackboards. My experience at PI was the definite confirmation that I want to do physics research at university.”
There is no doubt that Andrei’s stay at the Perimeter Institute was truly inspiring. “It was an exciting experience,” he says. “I love physics. It describes everything and I want to understand the world we live in. I want to play a part in future discoveries and that will involve physics.”