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The Olympiad is a nine-day international competition among pre-university students from more than 60 nations. — AAPT.ORG

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Meet the Team

 
Photo of Pranav Murugan

Pranav Murugan

Denton, TX

Texas Academy of Math and Science

Grade: Junior

Hobbies

Powerlifting, chess, football, tae kwon do

Clubs

Mu Alpha Theta (executive), Chess club, Research Organization, Science Bowl

Experience

USAPhO medalist (gold 2017, silver 2016), USNCO semifinalist (2016, 2017), AIME qualifier (2013-2017), TXSEF finalist (2013, 2017), FWRSEF 2nd place (2017), SEFH 3rd place (2015), SEFH 2nd place (2013)

Bio

I remember being fascinated in elementary and middle school with how the math I learned tied so easily to the physical world around us. That a quadratic equation can easily model projectile motion, and that conic sections arose naturally as a result of gravitational interactions astounded me and gave weight to the numbers and concepts I worked with. I am always eager to find this deep relationship between the math and physics, the abstract and concrete, even as I study further in my high school years. It was an incredible moment when I realized the power differential equations held in the natural world.

As a fan of chess, I really like Nobel laureate Richard Feynman’s metaphor for man’s quest to understand the world around him. He likened it to being able to observe one section of a chessboard, and over the course of thousands of games, slowly learning the rules of the game itself. Through math, we slowly learn the language of the natural world; all that’s left for us now is to listen.

I first took physics in my freshman year of high school, and soon grew eager to learn as much as I could about this new subject. Every new equation I discovered only heightened my love for this field. I am excited to attend the US Physics Olympiad training camp and to meet others who share the same passion I do.

My interests in physics bleed over into chemistry and engineering as well; even though nuclear- and thermochemistry have the greatest similarity to concepts in physics, I have always had a spot in my heart for organic chemistry. Something about the immense variety of compounds with unique behaviors that arise from such simple building blocks fascinates me. Even here, I can see the connections to physics; solutions of certain compounds can polarize incoming light, and just a simple geometric change to the structure can flip the direction of polarization. Who knew carbon had that kind of versatility? One thing I must concede, however, is that physics labs are orders of magnitude nicer than organic chemistry labs (why does everything evaporate so quickly?).

I would like to thank Mrs. Lorfing for introducing me to the subject of physics in school and for giving me the foundation to begin my quest for learning. I would also like to thank my parents for helping me throughout my physics journey over the years, and my sister for not distracting me too much when I was studying. A final shout out goes to all my friends who have pushed me to excel at everything I do (including watching Netflix, as my Parks & Rec and House watch times reveal) and made me the person I am today.

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Contact Information

For more details and information about the US Physics Team, please contact AAPT's Programs department at 301-209-3340 or programs@aapt.org