Andrew Wiles had “the great good fortune to have a high school mathematics teacher who had studied number theory”, and who suggested that he read Hardy and Wright’s An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers. Richard Feynman had a high-school teacher who explained to him the concept of a Lagrangian and the principle of least action. The aim of Project SOPHUS is to create a community for high-school students with a passion for maths and physics, where Lagrangians are explained, number theory books are shared, and where everyone is welcome regardless of background or status. We are based in Ålesund, Norway, but we hope that the community model we create will be a source of inspiration for similar projects elsewhere.
Ålesund is is a small town situated on the west coast of Norway, near the birthplace of Sophus Lie (after whom the project is named). In 2019, our students took three of the top five places at the Norwegian Physics Olympiad, two out of six spots on the Norwegian IMO team, and First Prize in the International class at Young Scientists Denmark. Other former students have published original research in Springer Lectures Notes of Artificial Intelligence, won First Prize across all disciplines in the European Contest for Young Scientists, and been admitted to courses at Cambridge and Berkeley. We organise pizza and problem-solving nights, student research projects, trips to places like Bonn, Oxford and CERN, and study groups on various topics (currently quantum field theory).