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The Great Physics YETI Challenge

February 1, 2022

It’s not a snowman. Or a cooler. It’s a weeklong series of computing challenges with each day’s answer serving as a clue to the next puzzle.

YETI began with somewhat mysterious flyers posted around the Nielsen Physics Building, inviting the curious to learn more via a QR code. The "Year-End Tournament of Imagination" launched at the end of the fall 2021 semester and drew several intrepid players, with five making it all the way through.

Designed and organized by Tova Holmes and Larry Lee, both assistant professors, the challenges might be cryptography, or dealing with large data sets. The answers fit into a holiday/Knoxville theme, like the plot below, revealing a map that led players to the Bijou Theatre on South Gay Street. ⬇️

YETI Plot Bijou Theatre

Graduate Student Harini Radhakrishnan was the overall winner and took home $100. Her victory will be forever recorded with her name on the YETI plaque soon to be displayed in the physics building. Her fellow Graduate Students James Christie and Sanket Sharma each won $50 for Most Comprehensive Solutions (James) and Most Intuitive Solutions (Sanket). All five finishers (Harini, James, Sanket, Casey Sobecks, and Nimmitha Karunarathna) won small ceremonial YETIs to commemorate their achievement—tokens their heirs will no doubt fight over one day.

Anyone sad to have missed out on the challenge need not worry. YETI will be an annual event in UT Physics, keeping the acronym but changing the name each year. It still won’t be a snowman or a cooler, but it promises to be a lot of fun.

James Christie

James Christie with his commemorative YETI

Sanket Sharma

Sanket Sharma, Runner-Up for Most Intuitive Solutions

Harini Radhakrishnan

2021-2022 YETI Champion Harini Radhakrishnan (left) with Assistant Professors and YETI Governing Body Members Tova Holmes and Larry Lee

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