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Westminster physicists’ ‘uncrackable’ safe takes prestigious UK crown

Westminster physicists’ ‘uncrackable’ safe takes prestigious UK crown

4 March 2022

Riddles involving a squash ball and lasers have seen five Westminster Sixth Formers win the Weizmann UK Safe Cracking Tournament 2022, and gain a place in the global finals.

Each year Weizmann UK encourages Year 12 pupils to put their knowledge of physics to the test by entering their annual Safe Cracking Competition. The competition sees teams design and build a safe with locking mechanisms, based on the principles learned in A-level Physics.

H2O (Hard 2 Open) team members, Melchior (Sixth Form, AHH), Diego (Sixth Form, WW), Nathaniel (Sixth Form, PP), Oliver (Sixth Form, BB) and Zachary (Sixth Form, RR), won the competition by designing a safe that could only be opened by heating a squash ball gently to increase its bounce, and then applying knowledge of polarised laser light to set a dial in a position that would release the safe door.

Working alongside Richard Maynard, Westminster’s Engineer in Residence, Team H2O spent four months designing their almost impenetrable safe, ready for the UK competition day, held online, at which the team had to explain the concept behind their safe, the physics behind their riddles and how to crack into their safe.

16 teams from nine schools took part in the UK competition, described as a ‘unique way for students to see how the physics principles they learn about in the classroom have real world applications’, and which is CREST accredited and recognised by both UCAS and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Having explained their concept in detail to a judging panel of eminent physics experts from the UK and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Westminster’s Team H2O was awarded the title, seeing off the challenge of Dulwich College, Eltham college, Ibstock Place School, Sevenoaks School, St Mary’s College, St Paul’s School, The London Academy of Excellence Tottenham, and Tonbridge School.

Following the victory, Diego said: “Even though we put a lot of time and effort into our safe, we still can’t believe that we managed to win the competition!”

H2O will now compete in the Virtual International Safe Cracking Tournament at the Weizmann Institute of Science, which will take place online from 4 to 6 April 2022.

Westminster physicists’ ‘uncrackable’ safe takes prestigious UK crown

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