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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 Sanjay Raman

Sanjay Raman

Traveling Team

Seattle, WA

Lakeside School

Grade: Sophomore

Hobbies

Running, reading, playing piano, composing music, cooking, creative writing, staring at Wikipedia for hours, reading Feynman’s Lectures on Physics

Clubs

Math club, Math team, Quiz bowl, Varsity Cross Country team, Varsity Track and Field team, Orchestra

Experience

USAJMO qualification (2016, 2017), USAJMO Honorable Mention (2017), Student presenter at 2016 MAA MathFest Undergraduate Paper Sessions with paper entitled “Analytic Properties of Quaternions,” Independent mathematical research on the equidistribution of countable sets, NHD State Competition (2015), BAMO-8 3rd-place award (2015), Online Math Open 5th-place team (Spring 2017), USATF Junior Olympic National Cross Country Championship 1st place team (2015), WIAA State Cross Country Championship (2016)

Bio

My physics journey began in 7th grade. Before then, I was the typical math-focused student who took a few advanced math classes and participated in various regional math contests. I had little true interest in the subject and little motivation other than grades and exams to continue my studies. Then, I picked up Deep Down Things by Bruce Schumm. Slowly but surely, the book began to transform me. I devoured it voraciously, staring for hours at its detailed explanations of phenomena in particle physics. It fascinated me that everything in the universe could be constructed from a handful of building blocks, all of which were neatly encapsulated in the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Nevertheless, when I finally finished the book, I was somewhat dissatisfied. I knew that Schumm deliberately withheld many details in order to make the material more accessible, and I could not accept not knowing the full story. I decided, once and for all, that I needed to fortify my mathematical background before I could do any further research, so I taught myself elementary calculus that summer. At this point, the mathematics itself was enthralling enough, and I began to pursue math as a subject in its own right. However, my connection with the world of physics remained intact: for a 8th-grade National History Day project, I chose to research the life and scientific work of Richard Feynman. Over the course of this project, I discovered his world-famous undergraduate lectures, and I pored over them for hours and hours.

Over the next few years, I continued to read more and more physics: I began to foray into more advanced topics like quantum mechanics and thermodynamics. However, what fascinated me the most was Einstein’s theory of general relativity. I had heard, from popular science television and magazines, that general relativity described gravitation as the curvature of spacetime. However, I had no idea what this actually entailed until I began to read Spacetime and Geometry, a fully mathematical introduction to the subject. As soon as I plunged into the book, I was enthralled: Could it really be true that gravity was nothing but a geometrical feature of the spacetime in which we lived? It was remarkably rewarding to finally understand a concept after staring at the same pages for an hour.

In addition to math and physics, my other love is running. I have run cross-country since 3rd grade, but I only started seriously racing in 8th grade. For both cross-country and track and field, I have been on my high school’s varsity team for both sports. Participating in sports such an amazing social experience, and I would say that the cross-country team is one of the most tight-knit and supportive sports teams at our school. Many of my friends are fellow runners. Running provides a much-needed break for me from my intense academic life, and I have often found that I hit upon the solution to a difficult problem after going for a long run.

This was my first year taking F = ma and USAPhO. Although I had little experience with physics competitions, I was able to reap the rewards of my extensive physics studies in a test setting. Moreover, my experience with math competitions (including the USAJMO) allowed me to hone my problem-solving skills. To my parents and my physics teachers, Ms. Heather Butler and Mr. Sean Stewart, I owe a huge thanks for having supported my physics education over the course of high school, and to the math team coach, Mr. Dean Ballard, I am extremely grateful for having administered the F = ma and USAPhO exams. I feel very honored to have been selected for the US Physics Team, and I am very excited to attend the summer camp!

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