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Weizmann Safe Cracking

On Sunday, Joe, Luke, Esmé, Tom and I journeyed to Dulwich College where the seventh annual Safe Cracking competition run by the Weizmann Institute took place.

Over the previous five months we five had been designing a safe and building it with the help of the DT department. The catch was that the safe had to be unlocked using physics principles. Our safe included two puzzles, the first of which required the contestants to work out the frequency at which a fish had to vibrate to produce maximum oscillation so it could shake itself off the fisherman’s hook, given only the line’s extension when suspending the fish. The second puzzles tested their recollection of Archimedes’ principle, in trying to maximise the container’s overflow by making the fish as dense and large as possible so it would sink and displace its volume of water.

The day of the competition itself consisted of three main aspects. We attempted to break into the safes that other schools’ teams had constructed, with much success, as we opened or half-opened almost all the safes we encountered. The puzzles created by all the teams were mostly intuitive and challenged us to think on the spot in order to open the safes in the allotted time. Meanwhile, five other teams attempted to break into our fish-themed safe. We were again relatively success in our defence, with most teams struggling to find the resonant frequency of the theoretical fishing line. We were also judged by three physics experts, who questioned our understanding of the physics behind our puzzles, and assessed the integrity of the safe itself. Safes were also judged by the other teams who participated.

Overall, the day was fun and academically stimulating. We achieved a healthy 12th place out of the 24 teams who entered, and taking part was extremely rewarding. I personally think that the manufacturing of our safe was the best part, as the project gauged our teamwork skills and our dedication. We spent lunchtimes designing, and periods after school in DT building the safe, with some time devoted at home to testing and even decorating it! It’s fair to say that by the end of the project we truly had bonded over getting the box finished in time. I hope that students in the years below us can also share this experience when they arrive at Year 12 Physics and good luck to them!

Siddiq (lower sixth)