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Physics Olympics just like regular Olympics, only with lasers

April 30, 2006

The annual Physics Olympics, hosted by Drake University, did not feature any snowboarders falling on their rumps while showboating or petty infighting among speed skaters. There was, however, competition to put the Nagano games to shame - plus lasers.

The annual showcase of area high school brainpower and scientific know-how answered the starter's pistol on March 29 in Olmsted Center.

This year's event featured a new competition: the optical slalom. Participants manipulated a laser beam by bouncing it off five plane mirrors so that the reflected beam hit a specified target. The winner was based on the judges' measurement of the shortest radial distance from the center of the target.

The event, which is free and open to the public, was sponsored by Drake's School of Education and the Heartland Area Education Agency. Drake will also host the finals on April 29.