Physics students win Stewardson essay prizes for creative papers

This year the Department of Physics and Astronomy has awarded two prizes – the Stewardson essay prizes – to students for their Physics Special Topics papers.

The Physics Special Topics module provides scope for creativity, for group work in a realistic context, and for the opportunity to revise some basic physics. It also gives the students an important insight into the formal process of submission, peer review and publishing.

Split into small research groups, the students are asked to come up with ideas for, research, and write, short papers of no more than two pages, properly presented with formulae, diagrams, references etc.

The Stewardson essay prize is awarded for the best essay by an undergraduate reading Physics as their main subject. Usually, the judges look at finalist project work and dissertations, and also bespoke submitted essays when deciding who to award the prize to. This marks the first year Physics Special Topics papers have been eligible for the prize.

The winners of the prize are:

Dr Mervyn Roy from the Department of Physics and Astronomy said: "Both of these papers were well written and coherently argued. The physics was good and creative. Most importantly, both papers were a little bit novel – the papers caught our eye because they were a little bit different to typical physics special topics papers."

Previous student papers have examined the concept for a Star Wars-style deflector shield, how Superman’s solar-powered feats break a fundamental law of physics and the logistics of teleporting humans into space, to name a few.  

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