XII International Astronomy Olympiad
Simeiz, Crimea, September 29 - October 7, 2007.

XII Международная астрономическая олимпиада
Симеиз, Крым, 29 сентября - 7 октября 2007 г.


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In Memoriam

Waldemar Gorzkowski


Waldemar Gorzkowski, photo from IPhO web-site A life dedicated to Olympiads.

Waldemar Gorzkowski, the President of the International Physics Olympiad, passed away on 15th of July 2007 in Isfahan, Iran, at the 38th International Physics Olympiad. He died suddenly in the middle of organizing this event, during the activity he loved most. According to information from the 38th IPhO organizers his sudden death was most probably due to coronary disease.

On August 3 the burial service was read for Waldemar in the church of St. Wawrzynec (na Woli) and he was buried in Warsaw.

Waldemar Gorzkowski was born on November 12, 1939 in Warsaw. He graduated from Warsaw University in 1962, worked as a research scientist in the Institute of Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 1976 he made his PhD theses. He was a theoretical physicist interested mainly in group theory, all his scientific life till the retirement was in the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Waldemar Gorzkowski had been the leader of the Polish team since the 4th IPhO in 1970 and he was at the current times the oldest active member in its organization. He was leading the IPhO for the last 23 years, being since 1984 Secretary, and, after this position was renamed, the President of the IPhO.

He was also a founder (in 1992) of the research competition "First step to a Nobel Prize in Physics" for high school students. He popularised the physics and physics competitions for high school students, he was an author of many books and articles about the Physics Olympiads, some of them translated into many languages and help for many young clever students.

Waldemar's contribution in IAO is not well-known. He was one of our main consultants while we prepared, founded and promoted the International Astronomy Olympiad. We had many discussions on the International Science Olympiads, Physics and Astronomy especially, since e-mail appeared in our life in 1992. These consultations were the most intensive in the late 1990-ies, the first years of the IAO. The article "International Physics Olympiads (IPhO): Their History, Structure and Future" was written by Waldemar in 1999 as a result of our e-mail talks.

His main ideas for the International Science Olympiads (ISO) are to avoid any politics in the Olympic organization and to diminish (and finally to remove at all) the sport approach in the Olympiads. Waldemar was very strong in promoting these points of view even having a real opposition in the community of the team leaders at IPhO. His advises, referred to IPhO history, allowed us to avoid such tensions (politics and sport approach) at IAO.

The idea of leadership of the National Science Societies (like Astronomy Societies for IAO or Physics Societies for IPhO) in the National Olympiads and formation of the teams was highly approved by Waldemar. It was Waldemar who gave us moral support and the most helpful advises for the organization of the IAO representative and working bodies' structure different from other ISOs, namely based on Astronomical Societies placed a priory above any other institutions, officials or team leaders.

Waldemar was sure that it would be quite more fruitful to establish the educating principles of the Olympiads since the beginning rather than to improve the situation after years of activity. He envied astronomers a little since IAO was founded in a new depoliticised era and so might avoid some shortcomings of IPhO that came from past years. Some positions of IAO rules were included into Statutes of IPhO. And Waldemar's advises were very helpful for us, and the "constitution rules" of IAO were established from the beginning.

We have to say many thanks to Waldemar for his role in IAO. Our prayers and condolence go out to his family, loved ones and colleagues. Please, accept our deepest sympathy. In Waldemar we lost a wonderful friend of Science Olympiads and the great promoter of high-level education in physics and astronomy. We so grieve for his loss.


Dr. Mikhail Gavrilov,
IAO Chairman.

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    Dr. Michael G. Gavrilov, Founding Chairman of the International Astronomy Olympiad,
    ISSP of Russ. Acad. Sci., Institute avenue 15, 142432 Chernogolovka, Moscow region, Russia.

    URL: http://www.issp.ac.ru/iao/2007/
    e-mail: gavrilov@issp.ac.ru
    fax: + 7-(496-52)-49-701