12 August 2011

Record number of new physics students

172 new students will begin physics studies at the Niels Bohr Institute this year. That is 40 more than last year’s intake, also a record. It simply surpasses everything.

Professor John Renner Hansen

Professor John Renner Hansen, Director of the Niels Bohr Institute

According to professor John Renner Hansen, Head of the Niels Bohr Institute, it is a combination of several things that have made young people aware of physics as a subject. In recent years there have been significant new discoveries highlighting physics, the experiments at CERN, which research the mysteries of the universe on an atomic level, quantum phenomena such as teleportation, planetary research and the Mars expeditions – as well as astronomy and climate research, including ice cores in Greenland, all of it exciting research that has received a great deal of coverage in the media.

”This means that interest in the subject has increased and you are aware of it”, explains John Renner Hansen. "Moreover, it is a large year and the young have realised that the natural sciences and technical subjects are the way forward. It has also become clear that physics is not just an education for high school teachers, but is really an education that can be used in many places in society and that there is great demand for it in the business world”, he explains.

Experimental setup in the optical laboratoryBut what do you do with so many students? – are there even enough classrooms?

"Unfortunately, the architects forgot to make windowsills in the auditoriums at HCØ where much of the teaching takes place, so they can’t sit there”, laughs John Renner, and adds more seriously, ”we´ll find room”.

Cool and super hard

To welcome the many new students the institute has arranged an introduction week, which is mix of social and academic events. Here they will hear about how physics is cool, but also super hard. They get an introduction on how to write good assignments and learn about the open-door policy, which means you can go to the researchers – and use them. They will meet physicists who will talk about life as a scientist and they will go around and see the laboratories.

Students in the auditorium

The auditoriums will be filled with 172 new students.

In between all of the academics there will also be events such as ‘fun on the lawn’ with games and fun, communal dinners, and it all ends with a big party, in this case, a gluon-party naturally (a gluon is an elementary particle which ‘glues’ all of the elementary particles together).

"We are incredibly pleased that we are getting so many good new students. Even though it is a huge challenge that there are so many, we are looking forward to meeting the new students and helping them learn hot to handle the many challenges they will meet as physics students”, explains director of studies Ian Bearden.