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Kiran Linsuain

Pittsburgh, PA


Grade: Sophomore


Programming, Reading, Tennis, Running, Chess


Western PA ARML, Pittsburgh Chess Club


USAPhO Bronze Medal (2016), AIME (2017), Westinghouse Science Honors Institute (2016-17)


Growing up I always remember physics being in the background. My brother and I used to ”help” my father put together physics demonstrations for his classes, and to play with all sorts of physics equipment. Air tracks, gyroscopes, and the “monkey shooting apparatus” provided many hours of fun. When it came time for more serious dedication, biology and the natural sciences caught my attention and I spent much of my middle school reading books by David Attenborough and watching his documentaries. I also enjoy reading “vintage” technical literature; the Popular Mechanics Encyclopedia (published in 1969!) has long been a favorite of mine.

I started noticing connections between physics and other subjects; one of the most interesting aspects of physics (and science in general) is its multidimensionality and inter-connectivity. In my free time I explored Conway's Game of Life and other cellular automata, and this got me interested in patterns, computers, and mathematics. Cellular automata motivated me to learn about programming, chaos, information theory, and cryptography. This motivation led me to take an online course on cryptography. I was amazed to learn how much of our everyday life depends on properties of very complicated algorithms that are built on areas of mathematics, such us number theory, that were unappreciated for a long time. Another interesting thing I learned was that the next breakthrough in information security is expected to come from further development in quantum computation, that is, from physics!

I enjoy working on projects that make me think in many different directions and do not have a well defined solution. My most memorable experience in physics class was a research project I did about a year ago. I chose to simulate the effects of tidal forces on loosely bound planetary rings and moons. This project gave me a first-hand appreciation of what computers, mathematics, and physics can do when they work together.

My interest in physics contests grew from reading mathematical puzzle books, such as Hoard of Mathematical Treasures and The Chicken from Minsk. I find the problems in these books engaging and fun to solve, which can hardly be said about typical textbooks. It is this kind of problems I cannot get out of my mind once I start working on, and they even make for good casual conversation long after the book had been set aside. It is the pursue of this kind of challenges that brought me to the Olympiads.

It is a great honor to be a member of the U.S. Physics Team. I cannot wait to meet the instructors and my fellow teammates, and take on enticing and challenging physics.

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