Monday, January 21 2019


Hà Nội student claims gold at astrophysics Olympiad

Update: December, 23/2018 - 09:00
Taste of victory: Trần Xuân Tùng, the gold medal winner at the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2018 in Beijing. Photo
Viet Nam News

The Vietnamese team achieved its best result at the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2018 (IOAA) in Beijing recently. Gold-medal winner Trần Xuân Tùng talks with Bùi Quỳnh Hoa about his passion for astronomy and astrophysics.

Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Trần Xuân Tùng and I’m a 12th grade student, class Physics 1 at the Hà Nội-Amsterdam High School. I come from Hà Nội, and I have a passion for astronomy and astrophysics.

Inner Sanctum: How many competitions have you taken part in?

It was the first time I’d taken part in a big international Olympiad on astronomy and astrophysics, and luckily, I won the gold medal.

Other competitions have not been so challenging.

Inner Sanctum: What inspires you in this field?

I’ve been interested in astronomy and astrophysics since I was very young. I don’t know why but I love it and read anything about it.

In my opinion, it’s not a dry subject. It’s useful because it is applied in many fields. It helps me develop my imagination. It’s not just numbers and formulas, trust me.

Inner Sanctum: Have you faced difficulties because this field requires a big investment in high-tech equipment?

I think it’s not too difficult for me because only 30 per cent of knowledge comes from practical study of astronomy which needs advanced equipment. The other 70 per cent is theory which I can study for free from many sources.

Inner Sanctum: Can you tell us more about the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2018 in Beijing?

The IOAA aims to promote a growing passion for astronomy and related subjects, especially through general education of young students, and enhancing the development of international contacts among countries in promoting astronomy and astrophysics in schools. It also aims to make more high school students interested in studying the subject at university to become the next generation of astronomers.

At this year’s event, we had five members and we won four medals: one gold, one silver and two bronzes.

Reach for the stars: Tùng (second from left) with his Vietnamese team at the event. Photo courtesy of Trần Xuân Tùng

It was the first time Việt Nam had participated at the competition. The event welcomed 38 countries and 46 teams, including 71 teachers, 214 students and 28 observers. We had to take four tests: Experiments (including constellation observation, constellation mapping, and night observation from telescopes), Theory, Statistical Analysis and a Team Test. All the tests were conducted in English.

Inner Sanctum: Why did it take a whole day for you to be named the winner?

At first, my solution was not recognised because it was different to the standard answer. But after the Vietnamese delegation petitioned the jury, we were allowed to present and explain more about our solution. And yes it took a day for them to recognise we were right and I won the gold medal. One problem can have several solutions, right?

Inner Sanctum: How do you feel being the first Vietnamese student to win gold at this competition?

I am happy and proud.

But I’m also aware that I am just a grain of sand in a desert of talent.

Inner Sanctum: How would you evaluate the Vietnamese team’s potential in this field?

The Vietnamese team should be confident about their potential in this field.

The evidence is clear from out previous successes at the competition.

Inner Sanctum: What are your passions besides astronomy and astrophysics?

I love playing the League of Legends video game.

In my opinion, games aren’t bad. If I know how to control my time, it helps me relax after studying hard and strengthens my reactions. A fierce fight in a game is also like a difficult mathematical question, right?

As well as playing games, I like answering online questions on logistical maths because it’s really interesting.

Inner Sanctum: What are your plans for the future?

I’ll keep taking part in national examinations for students on astronomy and astrophysics.

Studying more on this field is also my priority. VNS

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