- Success stories - Thessaloniki
First Prize and Nobel Ceremony Award for her project: "Cryptography:
a new algorithm vs. the RSA". She declares that "the minute
I arrived in Greece I know I was going to have a great time.
My father and I were collected at the airport by past participants
and brought to the hotel where I first got to know some of
the others with whom I was to spend the rest of the week.
There were some real "characters" there and I got on particularly
well with the English, Danish, Maltese, Swiss and European
School entrants. We spent the entire time telling jokes and
stories or going out at night together. The excursions were
all well worthwhile and the food was absolutely delicious
and plentiful. Besides, the awards ceremony took place the
magnificent setting of a spectacular summer residence of the
ex-king of Greece.
the beautiful setting sun the two Alumni judges awarded their
special prize in real Oscar Awards Ceremony style by reading
out their four nominations and then their choice. It was all
good fun". She says she was completely shocked to win a first
prize: "I was simply thrown into a daze when called up to
accept the award and when I got the trip to go to Stockholm
I was over the moon with joy. In the blur of excitement I
will always remember the huge cheer I got from all my friends.
I was so thrilled!
Concerning the project she presented, she intends to publish
it on a web site and, although she will not be patenting any
of the work contained in it: "many people expressed an interest
in the work and I have sent them a copy of the report. These
people include former colleagues at IBM Germany, Professor
Ronald Rivest in MIT, etc.".
attended the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar
in December 1999, and she attended lectures by Nobel Laureates,
visited Sweden's historic sites and met many international
officials. In general, she enjoyed the atmosphere at the last
ceremony of the 20th century: "our first morning together
was dedicated to the International Symposium, in which we
each made a small presentation explaining the projects we
had worked on and how we had been chosen to participate in
They then visited the oldest university of Scandinavia, the
University of Uppsala.
one of the most exciting moments was that in which she sat
by GŁnter Blobel, the Laureate in Medicine: "during the press
conference, Mr. Blobel referred to the young scientists in
the audience many times, and we were encouraged to ask questions".
Some other unforgettable experiences were "a lovely lunch
in the Parliament house with the Speaker of Parliament", a
typical Swedish Santa Lucia procession, a mini-debate amongst
the 30 young scientists attending the Nobel ceremony for the
BBC World Service Team and, last but not least, the memorable
Limousines in which they arrived to Stockholm's Concert Hall.
the year she has been working, in collaboration with her father,
on a book that they were invited to write: "the book's title
is In Code - A Mathematical Journey". It is due to publication
next spring. At the moment she is her final year of Secondary
School and she will sit her Leaving Certificate Examinations
in June 2000: "next year I hope to study Maths and Computer
Science in University".
thinks the contest is both an educational and enjoyable event.
She remarks that "the judging interviews were very enjoyable
and each judge showed a genuine interest in my project, which
made the process of explaining it to them a lot easier. I
very much liked the way judges were given a chance, as a result
of having the written reports for some months beforehand,
to ask detailed questions that were right to the point and
often quite testing.
one of the best weeks of my life in Thessaloniki and I will
always hold fond memories of it.
with Sverrir Gudmumdsson and Pall Melsted, he won a First
Prize and a Summer Research Fellowship in the European Northern
Observatories (Canary Islands) at Thessaloniki 1999. The project
was titled "The Galaxy Cluster MS1621 +2640".
astronomers undertake research they must start by obtaining
data, which normally requires expensive equipment such as
large telescopes. Sometimes this data are used by scientists
in a very specific way and then, when they need them no more,
they will make them public. Tryggvi explains that "this data
can be used further to look at different aspects of astronomical
research. That is what we did. We took already existing data
and used them to get our particular results. They came from
two different sources. Through our astronomy teacher we obtained
a data set from Icelandic astronomers who had been observing
a galaxy cluster from the Nordic telescope in the Canary Islands.
After having examined these data, we found another set on
the Internet, coming from a group of Canadian astronomers
that had been investigating the same galaxy cluster, but measuring
it in a diverse way".
both sources of data, these brave Icelanders obtained results
they would have not achieved other way. The combination explained
and estimated various physical properties of the galaxy cluster
such as its mass, its size and the number of galaxies contained.
They also speculated a bit "about the colour of those galaxies,
about their age and likely composition, and finally about
the evidence of gravitational effects on background light
from the cluster. The last bit occurs when the mass of such
an enormous object as a cluster bends the path of light coming
from its galaxies".
remembers that the Thessaloniki edition was the first occasion
in which he was able to meet people from Eastern Europe and
Russia: "speaking with people from various countries really
gives a broader perspective. Apart from making many acquaintances
I made really good friends during that week, particularly
with Tuomas, a Finnish guy who I shared a room with. We keep
in touch via e-mail, and we will visit one another some day".
if there is one thing we will not forget that is the announcement
about their winning the trip to the European Northern Observatories
in the Canary Islands: "that beats everything in my case".
anecdote, he recalls the moment when they were all sailing
out of the Thessaloniki harbour in order to go to a restaurant.
Suddenly a firework display started off on shore and all of
us, the curious young scientists, rushed to the side of the
boat where the event could be best seen. Only a few minutes
later, the captain came over, shouting and franticly screaming
at us and telling us to go to the other side of the boat before
it rolled over. Fortunately he managed to save us that time!"
is now travelling around Europe before he enrols the University
of Iceland to start his degree in Physics. Anyway, his future
plans are not quite laid out yet: "I am very fond of astronomy
and astrophysics. However, I am also interested in particle
physics, which fortunately enough combines well with the former
thinks the overall experience is clearly positive: "the EU
Contest gave me the opportunity and incentive to put a considerable
amount of work in a project I was interested in. Through my
work I learnt a great deal about astrophysics, but even more
importantly, it was my first introduction to reasonably serious
scientific work". He refers to the "organisation and framework
of the EU contest" as one in which "contestants generally
got the feeling that it was a real scientific event. For that
reason, winning a prize was a big boost to my confidence,
and I think the same must go for anyone whose project entered
the Contest. It is very important for young people that are
just starting their careers" .