Next year’s International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) will be hosted by the Student section of the Croatian Physical Society, in Zagreb, Croatia. Find out what you can expect at 2015’s ICPS in the following article!

The National Committee (NC) Croatia had presented their bid for organising the ICPS 2015 on last year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), and Zagreb was voted as the future host city for the ICPS! Croatian physics students have a long and devoted history at the ICPS – we come in big numbers and high volume, and we definitely like taking charge. We already have two highly successful ICPS organisation projects under our belts – the ICPS in 2000 was held in Zadar, and the one in 2009 in Split – both our gorgeous coastal cities, but something was missing in that equation. The majority of Croatian physics students reside in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, with the headquarters of the NC Croatia located at the Department of Physics at the University of Zagreb.

Zagreb is the largest city in the country, with its metropolitan area population going just slightly over 1 million people, hosting the University of Zagreb, the oldest continuously operating university in Southeastern Europe, as well as the largest university in Croatia, and acting as the cultural, scientific and touristic center of the country. It is a beautiful and old European city, with a highly eventful history, located in the middle of the continental part of Croatia, one of those cities whose streets mostly cover an orthogonal layout – something most tourists very much appreciate. Zagreb is a city that’s grown between the Medvednica mountain to the north (hosting one of the FIS World Cup slalom skiing races in the winter, because why not) and the river Sava to the south. There is not much life on the river, unlike in other European cities, so don’t bother exploring. The center of the city is located near the main square, where you can find Manduševac, the fountain told to have been the source of the city’s name. A passing knight had asked a girl named Manda, to grab him some water (Croatian: zagrabi), giving the fountain the name Manduševac, and the city became known as Zagreb. A good sense of humour seems to come with the territory.

Licitar hearts, one of the symbols of Zagreb. (source: Wikipedia)

Croatia (Hrvatska) is a relatively small country on the border of Central Europe and the Balkans, it is marked by its wonderfully diverse geography and natural beauties, from the Adriatic sea on the south-west, over the Dinaric Alps, to the plains of Slavonia on the north-east, as well as its nice people. Since a year ago, Croatia has been a member of the European Union, but you can still expect a full measure of the old Yugoslavian friendliness wherever you go. We pride ourselves with remarkable people stemming from our neck of the woods, from Ruđer Bošković, Faust Vrančić (inventor of the parachute), Andrija Mohorovičić, right down to Nikola Tesla. And Croats started the necktie fashion we still have going on in the world. We have had two Nobel prize winners, but none of them in physics – yet. Whether you’re interested in idling on the coast, sight-seeing, or absorbing the feel of our young and cozy country, you are bound to find something to your liking.

Our equally compact Organising Committee consists of 7 physics students at varying stages of study and with varying experience with the ICPS. We are planning on hosting you at one of our student dorms in the general city center area – everyone in one place, in double rooms. Unfortunately, the Department of Physics is located too far away to make sense to hold the official events there, so we have partnered up with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER), who have generously provided their facilities for holding lectures and organising other events. FER is one of our most prolific industrial and scientific institutions, and it can be reached in a short 10-minute walk from the dorm. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be found in the same building as the lectures, in one of the local student restaurants, and the parties will be held in the electrical engineering students’ club (KSET), on the other side of the building, so there will be no walking all over the city on ICPS 2015! The ICPS 2015 is patroned by the University of Zagreb, and the organisation has gained support of various institutions in the city and country.

There are more than 120 planned student lecture slots and 80 poster slots, we are expecting 5 guest lectures from distinguished physicists, sponsor company sessions, visits to the local labs and companies that employ physicists, and we will be organising various activities with the goal of introducing new (and old!) physics students to fields they have not explored yet. Now that we have the professional aspect of the conference covered, what about everything else? All the classic parties will be held, you can look forward to the obligatory sports, poker tournament, the city tour scavenger hunt, a quiz, and some other events with a bit more of twists and turns. We all love the IPCS and will do whatever is in our power to make everyone feel as comfortable and happy as possible. Our version of the ICPS will stray a little bit from the well-walked line we have been following so far – our goal is to strongly promote communication and popularisation of our favourite field of study. All the lecturers and official representatives are asked to actively participate in the conference, parties included; so if you decide you want to discuss Marxist ideologies with a physicist banker, you will have plenty of opportunity to do so and there will not much that would save them from your charming rhetoric. We are planning on holding a round table on physics popularisation, and depending on shown interest, other discussion events may be organised, as well. There is a reserved slot for the traditional IAPS members’ experience exchange, as well as the Annual General Meeting. None of the organisers appreciate driving around in busses on a nice summer day, so only one day is predetermined as the excursion day, where you will choose one of the combinations of culturally and professionally interesting destinations. If you are really itching for a splash in the sea, rest easy, we will be organising a beach trip as an alternative to the departure day.

A panorama of Zagreb. (source: Zagreb Tourist Board)

And what about practical information? Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, and you can reach it quite easily by your own motor vehicle, train, bus or airplane. The main mode of transportation in the city are the ZET trams and busses, coloured bright blue and traditionally not there in the exact moment you need one. The conference will be located a 5-minute walk from the main train station, with direct access to busses and trams – only 2 tram stops to the main square. The currency used is not Euro, instead you will be using the Croatian kuna (engl. marten), HRK, with its name following our nation’s wonderful tradition of using marten pelts as a method of payment, which doesn’t exactly make sense to us, either. The shops and banks are usually open until the evening every day except for Sunday, and you can easily find shops open on Sunday at the main train station, for example. The spoken language is Croatian (Slavic roots), but you can freely expect most people to be able to speak English, and all of them to trip over themselves trying to help you if there’s something you need help with. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the summer in Zagreb gets very, very hot, so prepare accordingly!

You can find additional information on Croatia and the NC Croatia’s activities in the 2013 edition of jIAPS (found on the IAPS website) or on the icps2015.unizg.hr website, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact any member of the Organising Committee (e-mail addresses listed on the ICPS 2015 website). We all love the ICPS and want to make it a great experience for everyone, so in case you have any complaints, ideas or requests for the conference, let us know through . The application period will begin on 1 February 2015 (you will able to sign up for an e-mail reminder through our website), and the conference will be held 12-19 August 2015.

In the name of the Organising Committee of the ICPS 2015 and the NC Croatia, I would like to invite you to join us in Zagreb next year, we are eagerly awaiting you!