Page 1

04 2017

charles university magazine

Mysterious moves of the lithospheric plates

hana čížková → 6

Science is Beautiful

Parasitic protozoa won the competition → 16

www.iforum.cuni.cz


University and Republic uk100.cuni.cz


1 editorial Forum 04

Dear colleagues, dear students, Friends of Charles University, In short, dear readers, The end of 2017 is getting near, and it was a year of elections at the faculty. The current rector, Professor Tomáš Zima, gained a strong mandate to his next term in the office, and so did most of our new deans. After demanding preparations, our school has also successfully submitted the applications for institutional accreditations, as the first university in the Czech Republic. For this, we can be really proud, and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Christmas time. I believe that you will, after this period of rush, enjoy this new issue of the Forum magazine, and that it will make your Christmas time even more pleasant. The festive period was one of the topics we discussed in the interview with rector Tomáš Zima who wants to continue in his struggle to turn the university into an “institution of the 21st century”. You can read about his plans and next steps, and also about what present he would like to get, and what Christmas cake he likes the most. However, the main feature of this issue is quite far away from the Christmas season. We have focused on a disastrous Lisbon earthquake in 1755 that affected Immanuel Kant and was reflected, among others, in the works of Goethe or Voltaire. The devastating quake and the tsunami that followed caused the movement of the fissure between the African and Eurasian tectonic plate, which still intrigues the geophysicists. In this regard, an interesting fact is that the university seismic station, installed in the building Ke Karlovu, has been

recording earthquakes since 1924. The qualities of our geophysicists are also proven by the fact that in Greece, data analysis is provided using the software developed at our department of geophysics by Professor Jiří Zahradník, in cooperation with Efthim Sokos from the University of Patras. A year has passed, and the competition “Science Is Beautiful” has new winners, presented during the Christmas celebration in the Carolinum. This year has been dominated by parasites; next time you catch a Mediterranean flour moth, you may remember his image that won the scientific microphotography category. Another kind of popularization is described by our alumnus and director of the Prague Zoo Miroslav Bobek, who has many experiences with well known projects, such as the African Odyssey (with storks) or the Revelation (with gorillas). Dear colleagues, dear students, friends of Charles University, in short, dear readers, I wish you enjoy the reading of this year’s last issue, and I’m looking forward to our next meeting in the new year.

 rofessor Martin Kovář P vice-rector for public affairs


2 contents Forum 04

contents 12 10 Charles University Magazine Issue 4/2017

publisher

Charles University Ovocný trh 5, 116 36 Prague 1

Responsible for content

Professor Martin Kovář Vice-Rector for Public Affairs

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Petra Köpplová Tel + 42 (0) 224 491 349

English copy-editing

Nic Mitchell, Mark Whitehead

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Tel + 42 (0) 224 491 248

email

forum@cuni.cz

Contact us

For subscriptions or change of address please email: forum@cuni.cz

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Filip Blažek, Eliška Kudrnovská, Designiq Forum is published twice a year and is free. The opinions expressed in Forum are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the Charles University. Reprinting of any articles or images from Forum without the express permission of Charles University is forbidden.

Distribution

Registration MK ČR E 22422 ISSN 1211-1732

spotlight

infographic

Lucie Kettnerová

10×  Interesting Facts About Planet Earth 14

hana čížková –

Journey to the centre of the Earth 6

science lab

ondřej šrámek – Geoneutrinos help reveal the origins of the Earth 8

Helena Zdráhalová

Vladimír Plicka, František Gallovič – Earthquakes can be measured in downtown Prague 10

A wound is healing 24

Klára Kalousová – There’s water outside Earth, too! 12

A new temple of Ramesse II discovered in Abusir 26

Science is Beautiful 2017 16 Jackie Tabick

Helena Zdráhalová

Agnes and the rest 25 Lucie Kettnerová

Faculty of Science

Wolves at the crossroad 28


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51

30

42

students

books

close-up at cu

Marcela Uhlíková

Danica Mil

P.  G.

Brotherly talk about mathematics, pathology and art 30

American Indian Identities 38

Week for Education points out flaws 48

Helena Zdráhalová

The Faculty of Science has a new emblem 50

Kashmeera Poona

Volunteering for Remembrance Day 34

Experts map the (dis) believing Czech Republic 54

Alex Leadbitter

alumni

Erasmus in Prague? 28

Lucie Kettnerová

miroslav bobek – Myths and tales from Prague Zoo 42

Jan Opletal has a statue at the First Medical Faculty 51 Charles University commemorates 17th of November 52

52


5 spotlight Forum 04

Journey to the centre of the Earth and Planets The Department of Geophysics at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University is the only Czech school offering the opportunity to study of the Earth and other planets based on physical and mathematical knowledge. text by Lucie Kettnerová  phOTO by Luboš Wišniewski, Thinkstock


6 spotlight Forum 04

Mysterious moves of the lithospheric plates The Earth’s lithospheric or tectonic plates move several centimetres a year, driven by the power of the planet’s hot core. Hana Čížková uses computer modeling to see how they move Her research focuses on modeling the long-term development of planetary objects – especially the Earth – and the deformation of moving lithospheric plates. But to understand Čížková’s research, we must revise some basic physics. Our planet consists of three basic layers: the innermost iron core, then the silicate mantle, about 3‚000 kilometres thick, and then several kilometres of crust on the surface. The mantle is moving very slowly by up to ten centimetres a year, caused by the interior of the Earth still being very hot. Temperatures on the boundary between the core and the mantle are about 4‚000ºC, so the layering is very unstable. “Imagine you put a pot on the stove and start heating it,” Čížková explains. “The lower part is lighter, due to thermal expansivity. Any small fluctuation makes the hot matter rise, while the upper part, relatively cold, goes down. This principle is called thermal convection, and a similar process occurs in the Earth’s mantle. This way, the Earth gets rid of the heat created while it was being formed, and also the heat which is still being cre-

pacific plate

philippine plate

ated by the decomposition of radioactive isotopes. The heat reaches the surface from the hot interior and flows out of the Earth’s body.” The thermal mixing involves subduction, the sinking of tectonic plates on the Earth’s surface. The lithosphere consists of, for example, the African plate, the Pacific plate and minor ones. All of them are moving. “On the oceanic crust they move outwards, away from each other” Čížková says, “the hot matter flows between them towards the surface, and at the edges of the plates the matter that grows cold on the surface sinks down to the mantle.” The areas where the sinking occurs are called subduction zones. On the surface, they form oceanic trenches. In the area of sinking, one plate rubs against another causing great tension resulting in high seismicity. The epicentres of earthquakes can be observed in sinking plates down to 600 kilometres. Knowledge of the deformation of the plates can help us understand how earthquakes occur – the shallow as well as the deep ones.

eurasian plate

Schematic diagram of a subduction zone beneath the Philippine Sea. The Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the Philippine Plate and the Philippine Plate is subducting beneath the Eurasian Plate.


7 spotlight Forum 04

The Cartesian model “In my research I create models of the flowing in the Earth’s mantle, focusing on the behaviour of sinking tectonic plates,” says Čížková. As it would be very difficult to solve the system of equations that describe the flowing in the global model of the whole of the Earth’s mantle, physicists usually use regional Cartesian models of different subduction zones, typically several thousand kilometres in area. In these models, they can pay detailed attention to the physical processes that affect the subduction with regards to the non-linear behaviour of the deformed matter – the viscosity depends on temperature, pressure and tension. In the model, you enter the estimated thermal range in the plate and the nearby mantle at the time the plate starts sinking. The system of equations results in thermal development over time and thus the deformation of the cold, sinking plate. One after another One of the models Čížková created was of the Philippines with the gradual subduction of two plates. The Pacific plate sinks under the Philippine plate, which then sinks under the Eurasian plate. “Of course, the dynamics of this area are much more difficult than if only a single plate subducted,” she says. “Here, the middle plate – the Philippine – pulls the Pacific plate and deforms it. The pull of the middle plate can extend and thin the other plate, and hot matter can rise to the surface.” In the Philippine area, such extensions occur once in 20 or 30 million years. “By our model of two subsequent subductions, we managed to explain not only the current conditions of the area but also repeated extensions,” Čížková says.

Associate Professor Hana Čížková, PhD graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University. She has been working at the Department of Geophysics since 1997, currently as Deputy Head of Department. In her research she focuses on the movement of tectonic plates and the development of the Earth’s mantle.

The epicentres of earthquakes can be observed in sinking plates down to 600 kimoleters. Vertical compression Another model focuses on the subduction of the Nazca plate under South America. In November 2015, a powerful earthquake occurred with its epicentre more than 600 km below the surface. The Prague team acquired unique data from Peruvian and Brazilian seismologists collected at local stations. The analysis of the earthquake’s source revealed a rather untypical image of tension in the plate – vertical compression occurred at a depth of 600 km. “We applied our numerical subduction model to the area and started looking for parameters that would explain this tension,” says Čížková. “If we take into account the latest knowledge of the development of viscosity and pressure at these depths, we can explain this distribution of tension in the plate using our model of the tectonic development of the area in the past hundred million years.”

The Indian story Another interesting situation is that between India and Eurasia. In the last 100 million to 120 million years, the Indian subcontinent moved closer to Eurasia, and the physical and geological data indicates how quickly this occurred. “We’re trying to explain the process using a model with two sinking plates, as tectonic reconstructions have shown that this case also involved two plates, one after the other,” says Čížková. “We managed to prove that there’s a constellation acceptable for the available geological data which can explain the speed of the converging plates and the seismic image of plates deformed in a rather complex way. Parts of these plates were separated in the distant past, and now they are gradually sinking into the deep mantle.”


8 spotlight Forum 04

Geoneutrinos help reveal the origins of the Earth Neutrinos were first discussed in 1930, and their existence was proven in the 1950s. Geoneutrinos are studied in particle geophysics, rather a young branch that leaves the scientists quite a lot of room for new discoveries. Ondřej Šrámek aimed his research at this topic, even though we might have expected a geophysicist to focus on something bigger than elementary particles Particle geophysics almost sounds like an oxymoron Elementary particles are the smallest bits of matter, while geophysics focuses on large planetary objects. This multi-disciplinary branch is rather new, and primarily involves the monitoring of neutrinos created inside our planet. Neutrinos were postulated in 1930 by Wolfgang Pauli, who explained the problem of energy conservation during radioactive beta disintegration. He also said that the detection of neutrinos would be very difficult or even impossible. And, indeed, it was not possible until 25 years later. Particle physicists saw that during each radioactive beta disintegration of radionuclides, naturally present in the Earth, a neutrino is produced – or, to be specific, an electron antineutrino. This is what we call a geoneutrino. In 2005, Nature published a study on the first detection of geoneutrinos, managed by the team operating the KamLAND detector in Japan. This milestone can be considered the start of experimental neutrino geophysics. Since then, geoneutrinos have also been measured in the Borexino experiment in Italy. Another detector, SNO+ in Canada, is starting to collect data now, and two more experiments have been developed in China. What does the measurement process look like? Large particle detectors are used, built by experimental neutrino physicists. Two de-

tectors are already operating in Japan and Italy, while the third is starting to collect data in Canada, and two more are being built in China. I’m a member of an international scientific team that will get the data from Chinese detectors and, of course, I use the results of existing experiments. The detectors are large vessels of a thousand tons, full of liquid, placed under the ground to filter out cosmic radiation. From the outside, the detector is observed by very sensitive “cameras” – photomultipliers that monitor weak light emissions inside the detector, which may be the sign of the interaction of a neutrino and the detection liquid. After a thorough analysis of this data, we can find out how many geoneutrino interactions have taken place in the detector in a year. Normal people can probably hardly imagine how high these numbers are… About ten million neutrinos a second fly through a square centimetre on the Earth’s surface. About a billion neutrinos, or perhaps several billion, fly through my body every second. They do nothing to us

About a billion neutrinos, or perhaps several billion, fly through my body every second. They do nothing to us though. We’re empty space to them, and this is why detecting them is so difficult.

though. We’re empty space to them, and this is why detecting them is so difficult. Of four physical interactions – gravity-based, electromagnetic, strong and weak – the neutrinos interact with normal matter only weakly, if we do not count gravity-based interaction due to their negligible weight. This “weak interaction” is really weak – I once calculated that even though several billions of neutrinos fly through us every second, only one interaction is probable in a human lifetime. The thousand-ton detector in Japan only measures about fourteen interactions with geoneutrinos a year. What do you do with the data you have collected? I create models of the Earth, trying to use geophysical and geochemical knowledge and existing estimates to forecast how many geoneutrinos fly out of the Earth. Then I can compare my model to the figures measured by particle physicists in the detectors. You may make up an endless number of such predictions, as there are more different estimates of the Earth’s composition, and we don’t know the content of uranium, thorium and potassium, or the distribution of these elements between the crust, mantle and core. We also don’t know whether their distribution in the mantle is even, or whether the mantle consists of layers or even more complex structures. Only a model that conforms to the measurement can describe the real Earth.


9 spotlight Forum 04

Ondřej Šrámek, PhD graduated from a master’s programme at the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University. He did his postgraduate studies at École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, where he focused on modelling flow in geologic scales and planet dynamics. He continued with these topics in his first post-doctoral study at the University of Colorado in Boulder, focusing on numerical models of flowing inside Mars. During his second post-doctoral study at the University of Maryland, he discovered the topic of geoneutrinos, with which he has remained so far. He has worked in the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics since 2014.

Do your forecasts come true? Some of the models are getting close, but we still face many problems. We need the flow of geoneutrinos to be measured more accurately and we need to increase the accuracy of our prediction models, but this is all very difficult. At this moment, my job is to improve the models and make them more accurate. Now we know that the there is a high content of uranium, thorium and potassium in the Earth’s crust, especially in the continental crust several dozens of kilometres under the continental surface. We may even touch parts of the Earth’s crust, we may grab a stone, take it to the lab and measure the content of these elements, and this gives us the model of the content of uranium, thorium and potassium in the upper crust, which has nothing to do with the measurement of geoneutrinos. This knowledge can be combined with other geophysical data such as the measurement of gravity field, seismic measurements or maps of the thermal flow on the Earth’s surface, to create a complex model of the whole of the Earth’s crust, as accurate as possible. Then we can say that out of the whole measured number of neutrinos, a specific number flew out

of the crust. And then we’re interested in the rest of them – the neutrinos from the mantle. It’s an unprecedented way of measuring the chemical composition of the deep Earth, and there’s no other way to achieve it. There are different estimates of the amount of radioactive elements in the Earth, and we’re now at the stage when we can say “this model complies with the measurement, while these two can be ruled out as the measured flow of geoneutrinos doesn’t fit.” To make the model more accurate we can use the detailed research of the composition of the Earth’s crust near the detectors. Every time a new detector is built, it’s necessary to focus on the study of the nearby crust. Right now, my colleagues and I are working on the improvement of the global crust model and of local models near the new detectors in China. Why is this discovery interesting for geophysicists? By measuring a number of geoneutrinos flying from the Earth, we can find out the number of beta radionuclides inside our planet. These are mostly radionuclides with a long half-life of uranium −238, thorium−232 and potassium−40.

How does this information help you? It may help tell us what the Earth have been formed 4.6 billion years ago, what its main ingredients were and what energy drives its dynamics. It may shed light on the energy management of the amazing processes that run inside the planet in geological periods over hundreds of millions of years or even longer. I’m talking about the convection in the Earth’s outer core, generating the geomagnetic field, the convection in the mantle we see on the surface as the movement of tectonic plates and related earthquakes. Just as a hybrid car can be driven partly by an electric motor and partly by a normal combustion engine, we know now that there are two energy sources that cause movements inside the Earth. The first is the original, primordial heat created at the time the Earth was formed. And the second source is radioactive disintegration. Each of them releases a certain amount of energy. About 20% of this energy is absorbed by geoneutrinos to enable them to move, but the larger part is released as heat inside the planet, and drives the dynamics of the Earth’s core. If we can measure how many geoneutrinos are flying from the Earth, we’ll find out how much radiogenic energy is released inside.


10 spotlight Forum 04

Earthquakes can be measured in downtown Prague Vladimír Plicka, PhD graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University. Since 2003, he has been in charge of the Ke Karlovu seismic station in Prague.

The seismic station located 15 metres under Ke Karlovu street is the oldest operational workplace of its kind in the Czech Republic, providing measurements since 1924. Wiechert’s horizontal seismograph is installed in the cellar of the Institute of Mathematics at the Faculty of Science. Today it is primarily used for educating students

Three years after it was established, the station began continuous operations and was incorporated into the international network PRA. In 1949 it started using the logarithmic quantity “magnitude” for the measurement of earthquake strength, the second station in Europe to do so. No problem with being downtown “People might ask why the station is still located in downtown Prague where strong seismic noise can be expected – we’ve got the underground nearby, and the city motorway,” says the station’s head Vladimír Plicka. “But it is rather deep and so the noise isn’t too strong. I’ve seen workplaces in seismically active locations where the noise was much more prominent,” The station, in the premises of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, is also used for educational purposes – the students can learn about modern devices and their outputs. Czechs in Greece Today the importance of the Prague station is primarily historical, but it is incorporated in the international network and the data is accessible by seismologists from all over the world. The cooperation of the Department of Geophysics with the University of Patras in building the network of seismic stations began in 1997. At the time the Internet was still quite new in Greece and the data was sent using satellite telemetry to the headquarters in Patras and then to Prague. Now the Internet is available everywhere including less accessible locations and has fully replaced expensive data transmission over satellites.


11 spotlight Forum 04

Nevertheless, the data is still stored on disk in case of short downtimes. “It’s necessary to visit every station once or twice a year to check the battery capacity and the condition of cables and update the registration devices’ firmware,” says Plicka. “Once we’re there we always download the data from the disk and back it up.” The collected data is not only used for research by Czech scientists but is also part of the routine processing in the Greek national network. “The data analysis in Greece uses software developed at our Department of Geophysics by Jiří Zahradník in cooperation with Efthim Sokos from the University of Patras,” says Plicka. In Prague, the seismologists pick up interesting earthquakes and investigate them in detail. They also use data from other stations in Europe and beyond.

Earthquakes still cannot be predicted, but seismic movements can When František Gallovič wants to be serious about his primary research into large earthquakes, it is not enough for him to use data from Prague or Greece. He has to travel to other seismically active areas. One of the nearest is Italy. “To understand the physics of earthquakes, how a fissure is created, what its features are and what physical laws govern it, you have to have the devices as close to the epicentre as possible,” he says. “In Italy, the network of stations is so dense that an earthquake caused by a fracture in the Earth’s crust in the area of, for example, 10 to 20 kilometres, can be measured by several stations nearby. The seismographs are sometimes installed only ten kilometers from each other.” He continues: “When a series of earthquakes occurred in 2016 near Amatrice, Italy, the seismologists installed additional temporary stations in the area immediately after the first incident to measure the next quakes even more accurately. Therefore we can now investigate the origins of the fissure that caused the earthquake, how rapidly it spread along the fracture line, and how big the slide was.” Gallovič also likes earthquake research because it uses the basic laws of physics, using continuum mechanics. “Geophysics recognizes different models of earthquake sources when the earthquake occurs in the fracture area,” he says. “The theory tells us what seismic waves will be generated in these areas. But in our case, the task is the opposite – we’re looking for the model of a quake on the fracture line that would best comply with the measured records. This enables the seismologists to find out what exactly happened in the epicentre. I usually point out that we only use a few empirical formulas and create our models using the basic principles of physics such as the momentum conservation principle.” Although Gallovič has analyzed many earthquakes, they can still surprise him because each one is unique – and that is why people still cannot predict them. When an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 killed 300 people in and around L’Aquila in Italy in 2009, local scientists were prosecuted and even faced the threat of six years in prison for unintentional homicide, because the prosecutor assumed they had underestimated the risk of strong quakes. Six days before the quake, the committee for risk assessment told the officials of L’Aquila that a major earthquake was improbable, though not impossible, as the tectonic tension in the area had already been released over several months in the form of weak seismic activity.

It may seem insufficient, but you still have time to leave the building or slow down the trains. The court of appeal finally cancelled the sentence in 2014 and acquitted the scientists. However, last year’s earthquake near Amatrice in Italy was not preceded by any seismic activity or other signs. “It will be investigated whether micro-seismicity or a slow, aseismic movement occurred in the area of the earthquake,” says Gallovič. “But no current measurement is 100% reliable. In most cases, the investigation proves that there was something going on inside the Earth but usually it’s no stronger than noise in the measurement. We’re especially limited by the fact that we don’t measure right at the source of earthquake, which is about 10 kilometres underground in central Italy. The incidents that occur before major earthquakes are very weak on the surface, so we can’t record them. However, it is possible that seismologists will one day be able to measure and record plate movements several weeks before an earthquake.” So far, people have had to rely on early warning systems monitoring the weaker P-waves that occur at the beginning of an earthquake and spread more quickly than the destructive S-waves that occur later. If the seismologists notice these first movements, they quickly have to guess how far away the earthquake is, its magnitude and how strong the next waves will be. However, people only get the warning seconds before the quake hits. “It may seem insufficient, but you still have time to leave the building or slow down the trains. In Japan, this system has been functional since the 1960s, since the first Shinkansen bullet trains. When the waves approached, the devices turned the trains off. Today, the whole system is much more sophisticated,” says Gallovič.

Associate Professor František Gallovič PhD graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University. He is currently secretary of the Department of Geophysics at the same faculty, focusing on research into earthquake epicentres and their computer models.


12 spotlight Forum 04

There’s water outside Earth, too! Is there liquid water inside ice moons? And if so, what’s happening to it? Geophysicist Klára Kalousová is creating models of physical processes happening inside objects in space to find out Much of the weight of the ice moons circulating around large planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn, consists of liquid water or ice. The best known of these moons are Europa, Enceladus, Ganymede and Titan and Klára Kalousová, an academic scientist specializing in planetary science, is investigating whether a strong source of heat can cause the ice to melt inside these objects, which would result in liquid water. She’s also interested in what happens next to the water: Does it remain liquid? Or will it freeze? And where does it go to inside the moons, and how? Ganymede is unique In her latest project, Dr Kalousová focused on Ganymede, the biggest of Jupiter’s Galilean moons and the largest satellite in the Solar System. Scientists have obtained considerable information about Ganymede, including measuring the moon’s magnetic and gravitational field.

“The interpretation of the measured magnetic data indicates that Ganymede has its own magnetic field, which is truly unique. The field is probably generated by a dynamo in the metallic core, which must be liquid, just as the Earth’s outer core,” says Kalousová. The scientists working on the project have also gained detailed information on the structure of this moon. The measurement of its gravitational field indicates that, apart from the metallic core, there is a silicate mantle and three layers of water: two ice layers, inner and outer, and a liquid ocean between them. And the inner ice layer is of special interest to Kalousová. “The deepest layers of the moon – the core and the mantle – are much warmer than the water layers, so the ice can melt on the boundary with the mantle. I’m trying to find out what the conditions of this process are, and what’s happening with the ice afterwards,” she says. It’s important to note that the inner layer consists of high-pressure ice, which has certain characteristics that are different to normal ice known on Earth. Its density is higher than that of the liquid


13 spotlight Forum 04

Geophysicists vs. astronomers Even though Kalousová investigates the planets, she doesn’t cooperate directly with astronomers. “Astronomers focus primarily on the observation of planets and moons, their characteristics and mutual moves,” she says, “while geophysicists are interested in what’s happening inside these objects. However, planetary science is an interdisciplinary branch, and we have to use as much knowledge as possible.”

ice mantle

rocky mantle

temperature

ice crust

iron core

saline ocean

0 %

water content

1 %

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede

water, which therefore tends to rise up. Also Titan has a layer of high-pressure ice inside, unlike the smaller moons, such as Europa or Enceladus – on Europa, water makes less than 10% of the total weight. For this reason, the ocean is in direct contact with the silicate core of these small moons, and they are therefore the best place to look for signs of life outside the Earth. Modelling is an endless process According to the model created by Kalousová, the formation of liquid water on the boundary between the silicate mantle and high-pressure ice inside Ganymede is possible. The water created by ice melting is quite sparse, but it is lighter than ice without water and so it rises up through this layer to the ocean. The measured induced field proves that the water in the ocean is conductive, so it must contain free ions of salts of sodium, potassium and magnesium. Kalousová intends to add the effect of these salts – or other components – into her next models. She says the effect is quite big, as these components not only change the density of water and ice but also the melting point. “Such a model would be more realistic,” she says. For example, ammonia significantly affects the solidification point. “All the ice moons were formed from pieces of rock and ice, and then differentiation occurred – the denser materials sank towards the centre, while the lighter ones rose up to the outer layers. The heat generated by these processes leaves the moons

over time, so it’s quite difficult to explain why there should be now liquid oceans on the moons. This is a bit of a mystery,” says Kalousová. She suggests there may be several reasons. On Titan, the main factor is probably ammoniacal and this lowers the solidification point. “Even relatively small percentages of ammonia in the ocean prevent it from freezing,” she says. There are a lot of work and calculations behind every model. Kalousová uses the software FEniCS, enabling her to create her own equations and add new components or effects. Every programme is original, created at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics.

Klára Kalousová gained her master’s degree at the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Charles University. She spent a part of her doctoral studies at Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique de Nantes, and then worked in a post-doctoral programme at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. In 2016, she returned to the Department of Geophysics as an academic scientist.


14 infographic Forum 04

6 × 1,024 kg Earth mass

The Earth has a mean density of

5,500 kg/m3.

Interesting 10 × Facts About Planet Earth 23 h 56 min 4 s Amount of time that it takes the Earth to rotate once on its axis

One complete Earth’s orbit takes

365. 256 days (1 sidereal year).


15 infographic Forum 04

The mean surface temperature of the Earth is

295 K.

The radius of Earth is

6,378 km.

The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where roughly

90 %

of all earthquakes occur.

The largest recorded earthquake was the Great Chilean earthquake of May 22, 1960. It had a magnitude of

9.5

on the moment magnitude scale. Earth’s magnetic field may be

4 billion years old.

The March 11, 2011, great earthquake in Japan may have shortened the length of Earth days and shifted its axis. It should have shifted the position of Earth’s figure axis by about

16 centimeters.


16 science lab Forum 04

Parasitic protozoa won the competition Science is Beautiful Believe it or not, parasitic protozoa can be beautiful. At least in the drawings by Linda Pokorná, student of the Faculty of Pharmacy and absolute winner of this year’s competition “Science is Beautiful”. Together with the winners of other categories, she was awarded in the Carolinum on December 13, 2017, at the Christmas evening ceremony at the Faculty of Science, the traditional organizer of the competition text by Helena Zdráhalová  phoTO by Science is Beautiful – Faculty of Science

The chairman of the jury, the staff member of the Department of Ecology at the Faculty of Science and also a successful photographer Martin Černý, said that there was “really something special” about the set “Parasitic Protozoa” by Linda Pokorná, graduate from the Faculty of Science and current student of the Faculty of Pharmacy. “Her work is rather extraordinary. Most of the applicants submit drawings of prehistoric animals or animals in general, studies of motion, or drawings of morphological signs. But her Parasitic Protozoa are a true success, even though it must be difficult to draw a thing you only see under a microscope, and you can then only guess how it really looks like. The jury agreed that we really enjoyed this work,” said Martin Černý, smiling. Another favorite of the chairman was the colorized microphotograph “Mediterranean flour moth”, eventually the winner of the category “Scientific microphotography”. The author of this catching picture is

a postgraduate student of the First Faculty of Medicine and the head of the Center for Experimental Biomodels of the same faculty, Viktor Sýkora, a winner of several previous years of the competition. The winner of the “Scientific Photography and Wildlife” category is Miloslav Macháček from the Faculty of Pharmacy, with his picture “In the Shadow of the Moon”. In the category “Scientific Illustration and Virtual Nature”, the jury awarded two runners-up instead of a winner: the postgraduate student of the Faculty of Science Lucie Buchbauerová and her drawing of the kingfisher, and Miroslav Položij of the Faculty of Science with his Zeolite lace. Lucie Buchbauerová’s kingfisher also won the Audience Award as it collected most likes in the public Facebook inquiry. Any employee or student of Charles University may compete in any of the categories – Scientific microphotography, Scientific Photography and Wildlife, or Scientific Illustration and Virtual Nature. The fans of

the infotainment project The Scientists, ran by the Faculty of Science, can compete in the Discoveries category. This year, the winner of this category was the photography of triangle keelback – The Last Moments, by Zuzana Gabrielová. “I’ve seen a lot through the years of this competition, a real lot. The winning artwork must be visually attractive, interesting, ingenious, and, of course, technically flawless. First we do a shortlist, and then we try to agree who deserves to win,” said Martin Černý of the procedure the jury uses. In the jury, he was this year joined by macro photographer and zoologist Pavel Krásenský, photographer and faculty mate Petr Jan Juračka, physicist and pioneer of the interference macro photography Jan Valenta (also founder and curator of the Small Gallery of Scientific Picture at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics), famous Czech macro photographer František Weyda, and nature photographer and geologist Ondřej Prosický.


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Scientific Microphotography

Winner Viktor Sýkora: Mediterranean Flour Moth (Ephestia Kuehniella) Though quite nice at the first sight, this small moth is a wellknown pest of flour and cereals. The picture was made using the scanning electron microscope and colorized in Adobe Photoshop.

Runner-up Jana Bulantová: Parasites in Danger Pubic louse (Phthirus pubis) is in danger. The current fashion of shortening or removing pubic hair becomes a problem for the diversity of human parasites. The pubic louse whose legs are designed for thicker hairs can’t survive in other places on the body. Also the transfer to other hosts during sexual intercourse becomes more complicated. SEM, colorized.


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Scientific Photography and Wildlife

Winner Miloslav Macháček: In the Shadow of the Moon For most of us, the moon is a source of light on clear nights. But what if the moon gets between us and the sun? In perfect conditions, when the moon completely covers the solar disk, we’re in its shadow. At that time, it’s possible to watch the solar corona, and even mighty protuberances. The picture consists of several shots. Due to different white balance, other shots are colorized yellow, which is the color often associated with the sun (though its actual color is rather white).

Runner-up Ivana Dobiášovská: Visible Visualization and categorization of calcified structures (bones) and cartilaginous tissue using the dyes Alizarin red / Alcian blue in a chameleon.


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3rd place Jan Havlík: Memory of the Birth The world around us was created from the ashes of former stars. In the infernal furnaces of exploding supernovas, elements of the whole periodical table are born at the same tiny moment, to be blown into beautiful nebulas by mighty forces. Since the last explosion, billions of years could have passed. The elements carry their memories within, though, and skillful chemists can sometimes glimpse this memory for a fraction of second. This is the reaction of copper monoxide and powder aluminum. Canon 80D; 1/4000s; f/5.6

3rd place David Herel: Tyrolean stars The panorama of a starry sky in North Tyrol, shot from the peak of the Zollberg mountain. In addition to the Milky Way, light pollution is visible on the sides, and the airglow above the mountain peak. The panorama consists of almost a hundred shots, each taken with 30 s / ISO 5000 / f/2.


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Illustrations and Virtual Nature

Winner Lucie Buchbauerová: Kingfisher Science is beautiful on its own, but also due to its subjects. The “flying jewel” is one of the most beautiful ones, no less. Drawn by Polycolor pencils, size A4. Also a winner of the Audience Award.

Runner-up Miroslav Položij: Zeolite Lace Zeolite FAU (or zeolite X) is one of the most important industrial catalyzers. Normally it occurs as colorless powder or small crystals. But look closer and you can admire these beautiful patterns, reminding you of laces or snowflakes. Created using the VESTA software.


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3rd place Linda Pokorná: Hybrid Cats Leopon is a crossbreed of two big cats: leopard and lioness. It has leopard’s body and distinctly lion’s head. Crossbreeds of big cats only live in captivity; in the wild, such a breed would be highly improbable. Drawn in Adobe Photoshop.

Discoveries Winner Zuzana Gabrielová: Xenochrophis trianguligerus – The Last Moments I was watching this ring snake for a while as it was swimming along the bank of a small lake, when it suddenly disappeared from my viewfinder. When I saw it again I couldn’t believe my eyes. The snake caught a frog, and started swallowing it very quickly. I was completely transfixed by the scene, so it took me a while to concentrate again, and only then I was able to capture this unforgettable moment.


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Runner-up Aleš Buček: Weapons of Termite Soldiers Termites were successful in the evolution, among other reasons, due to their social way of life with advanced division of labor. The soldier caste is responsible for the defense. The picture shows the lower stage of soldier and also an actual soldier of the African termite labidotermes. The nasus, or protuberance on the soldier’s head, is a spraying pistol used to spray a mix of toxic agents on opponents. (Cameroon and Ecuador; shot as part of the project of Associate Professor Jan Šobotník of the Czech University of Life Sciences).

3rd place Marie Voldřichová: Study of a Horse’s Movement A study of a horse’s movement (combined technique – watercolor pencils, acryl colors)


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Absolute Winner

Linda Pokorná: Parasitic Protozoa Toxoplasma gondii is an intercellular parasite of warm-blood animals and humans. It causes toxoplasmosis, an illness with a broad range of clinical symptoms. Drawn in Adobe Photoshop.

About the competition The competition “Science is Beautiful” is designed especially for the experts of the Faculty of Science, who take pictures of interesting subjects on macro and micro level alike. The content must be related to science. There are three categories: 1. Scientific microphotography 2. Scientific Photography and Wildlife 3. Scientific Illustration and Virtual Nature. The fourth category, Discoveries, is designed for general public – anyone can submit a photograph or an illustration.


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Jackie Tabick is a British Reform rabbi. She became Britain’s first female rabbi in 1975.

A wound is healing In the Talmud*, there is a fascinating comment by a 3rd century Rabbi: Rabbi Helbo says: Converts are as difficult for the Jewish people as a scab. This seems a dreadful description. I mean, who wants scabs on their skin? They itch. They ooze and can become infected. They are a reminder of an injury that has not yet healed text by Jackie Tabick  phOTO by Thinkstock

This negative view is supported by the majority of the commentators. For example, Rashi** a famous Medieval rabbi said that the problem was that: The language of’scab implies that they hold fast to their original deeds, and Israel learns from them, or relies on them, in legal questions of what is forbidden or permitted. In other words, the convert has so much yet to learn, but other Jews copy what they do, often to their detriment, as the converts make mistakes and so they bring down divine punishment upon all the community. Other commentators on the Talmudic quotation suggest that converts are hard for the Jewish people because: God has warned us about [being kind to] the convert in 24 places, not to take advantage of them, and it isn’t possible not to cause them some pain. (This is perhaps the loveliest reason we should be worried about converting people!)

Or because God’s desire that people should convert to Judaism has resulted in our exile, why are Israel spread across all the lands more than the idolaters? In order that converts should be gathered. Or to me the most difficult explanation…the racist teaching that brings the least credit to our people: Rabbi Yitzchak taught that that converts are hard for us to bear because they dilute the purity of our people, and the Shechinah (the Holy Presence) only dwells on families with good ancestry. Very few commentators suggest taking a more positive view with the result that many modern communities are not convert friendly. But in the European Beit Din, it is necessary to remember that while a scab is annoying and itchy, it is actually a sign that a wound is healing.

*Yevamot 47b, Kiddushin 70b Talmud edited around 600CE in Babylonia. **Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, French, 1040–1105


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Agnes and the rest It wasn’t just St. Agnes of Bohemia. There were more extraordinary women in the Central Europe in the 13th century. Most of them came from royal houses, founded monasteries, and helped the poor and the ill. They, and the related artworks, are subject to the two-semestral course led by Kornélia Kolářová Takácsová at the Catholic Theological Faculty, thanks to the financial support of the International Visegrád Fund text by Helena Zdráhalová  phOTO by ČTK

“The 13th century was the time of the emancipation of women from reigning houses – I hope I can use this word. They founded monasteries, were involved in politics, and often acted as conciliators in royal families, damaged by internal disputes and fights. Our course focuses on these extraordinary women, who left their traces in spiritual and other areas,” says Kornélia Kolářová Takácsová. Apart from St. Agnes of Bohemia, the students focus on Margaret of Hungary, Bohemian Queen Constance of Hungary, or St. Kinga of Poland, daughter of a Hungarian king who married to Poland and became a patron saint of that land. “We’re interested in links between the dynasties, and the impact of these links on specific monasteries. We also focus on women who grew up in the monasteries from the start – they never got married, yet their importance exceeded church, secular and national borders,” says the author of the project. The two-semestral course “Royal Women in the Visegrad Region: cult and art associated with them” also involves international trips to locations related to these women and art. Each semester, the course also offers lectures by three foreign experts that can be also attended by students who didn’t sign up for the course. The expert guarantor is Professor Jiří Kuthan. “All the time, we’re trying to develop and modify the program – we invite new foreign guests and change the trip destinations every year. Last year, we were in Wroclaw and Trzebnica, the resting place of St. Hedwig of Silesia. This year, we’re going to Esztregom and Budapest, and the next year probably to Slovakia. There’s even a group of students who signed up repeatedly and

begin to explore the topic profoundly,” says Kornélia Kolářová Takácsová. Not only the course, also the support of the library Dr. Kolářová Takácsová feels at home in the Visegrád region. She was born to the Hungarian family in Slovakia, and lives in Czech Republic together with her husband with Polish ancestors. It may have been her personal interest, her affinity to the Central Europe and the interdisciplinary nature of the project that helped her get the funding from the Visegrád Fund. This enables her to prepare a very interesting course not only for the students of the Catholic Theological Faculty but also of other Charles University faculties. Part of the money goes to the improvement of the faculty library.

Kornélia Kolářová Takácsová, ThD graduated in theology from the Protestant Theological Faculty, Charles University, and the University of Vienna. After getting her doctoral degree at the Protestant Theological Faculty, she’s now getting another one at the Catholic Theological Faculty; her subject is the history of Christian art.


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A new temple of Ramesse II discovered in Abusir Archaeological exploration in 2012 and 2017 brought to light evidence for a hitherto entirely unknown temple complex. It was discovered at the eastern edge of the Czech concession at Abusir, in an area that forms a natural transition between a terrace of the Nile and the floodplain text by Lucie Kettnerová  phOTO by the Courtesy of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, René Volfík


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Professor Miroslav Bárta, Dr., is the Director of the Czech Egyptological Institute, Faculty of Arts of Charles University. He studied Egyptology and ancient and early mediaeval archaeology at Charles University. After finishing his studies in Hamburg, he completed his doctorate in 1997 and was named an associate professor in 2002, with a full professorship in Egyptology coming in 2009. His main research interests include the archaeology and history of the second and third millennia BCE.

The complex of 32 × 51 m in ground plan was entered through a large mud brick pylon. Behind it was a large forecourt from where one could proceed directly into the stone court, but also into two identical and considerably long storage buildings that enclosed the right and left side of the complex. Given the archaeological evidence, it can be assumed that stone column lined the side walls of the court which was enclosed by mud brick walls that were, however, at least at some places, painted blue. From the rear end of the court, a ramp or perhaps a staircase gave access to an elevated stone sanctuary whose back part was divided into three parallel rooms. The remains of this building, which constitutes the very core of the complex, were covered by huge deposits of sand and chips of stone of which many bore fragments of polychrome reliefs. These finds constitute a priceless source not only for the reconstruction of the decoration programme of the sanctuary, but also of the function and dating of the entire complex.

From the rear end of the court, a ramp or perhaps a staircase gave access to an elevated stone sanctuary whose back part was divided into three parallel rooms.

Based both on textual and iconographic evidence, the structure is to be dated to the New Kingdom, to the reign of Ramesses II (ca. 1279–1213 BC). His name and royal titulary are attested among the excavated relief fragments. So far, relief fragments connected to cult of solar deities (such as Ra, Amun, and Nekhbet) and royal authority (the king and the god Horus) have been recognized. A construction of this type corresponds to the building programme of the above-mentioned king in the Memphite region, however, this is the only archaeologically attested temple of the king in the necropolis of Abusir and Saqqara. The temple itself fits well both the state ideology of Ramesses II and the local traditions, stressing the cult of the sun. It is the presence of the temple in the Abusir-Saqqara region that can shed more light on their importance for religion and ideology during the New Kingdom. Director of the Czech mission, Professor Miroslav Bárta, said that discovery of this temple provides a unique evidence on building and religious activities of the king in the Memphite area. At the same time, it shows the permanent status of the cult of sun god Ra who was venerated in Abusir from the Fifth dynasty onwards and whose cult gained again on importance during the discussed period. According to the Rector of Charles University, Professor Tomáš Zima, this discovery is another example of the fact that Czech Institute of Egyptology is one of the best world institutions of its kind.


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Wolves at the crossroad An international team of scientists led by molecular ecologists Pavel Hulva recently presented a study of the wolf population structure in Central Europe. Their results were published in a peer-reviewed journal Diversity and Distributions text by Faculty of Science  phOTO by Thinkstock


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The study shows that several wolf populations, each adapted to different environmental conditions, meet in this region. By the use of genetic methods, it confirmed the renewed presence of wolves in the Czech Republic after centuries of absence. Due to its location, Central Europe has the character of a crossroads where different genetic lines of organisms, as well as human cultural influences, come into contact. This also applies to grey wolf. The species was wiped out in many parts of Europe but has been steadily returning to some areas in the last decades, raising both the scientific curiosity and public emotions. At present, wolves from several populations occur in Central Europe. Until now, however, the detailed information on the population status of wolves in the Czech Republic, and particularly on the Carpathian population, was scarce. The Carpathian population is one of the largest wolf populations in Europe. In the Czech territory, though, it is represented only by the sporadic occurrence of individual wolves in the Beskydy Mountains. A male wolf killed in spring on the D1 highway in Vysočina belonged to this population. It is relatively numerous in Slovakia, Ukraine, and Romania. The Central European lowland population originated from the Baltic Sea, from where it spread to lowlands in Poland and Germany. In the last decade, it started to expand to the northern regions of the Czech Republic. In the south of our country, wolves belonging to the Alpine and Balkan populations may rarely occur. We discovered that the genetic architecture of the Carpathian population was strongly influenced by the so-called bottleneck effect – a dramatic reduction in population size in the twentieth century caused by human persecution, when the wolves survived only in Eastern Slovakia and small enclaves in the Central Slovakian mountains. Later in the century, the status of the wolf populations in Slovakia improved somewhat and the populations interconnected, probably due to the phenomenon known as“forest transition” – the overgrowing of old pastures at higher altitudes. The improved species protection status also played an important part. In the Carpathians, however, there is a clear evidence of the subpopulation differentiation due to the isolation of mountain ranges reinforced by anthropogenic barriers in the populated valleys (such as the D1 highway in Slovakia). Wolves in Eastern Slovakia are similar to the original populations of the central Carpathians, such as Romania. The Carpathian

The population numbers are growing slightly, probably due to its adaptability to the densely populated landscape and the year-round protection. wolf population has unique genetic features. These include an ancient mitochondrial DNA branch, no longer present in the North America where it was characteristic for robust American wolves during the Ice Age specialized in hunting large mammals such as horses or bison. Carpathian wolves also have characteristic morphology, such as bigger skull compared to neighbouring populations) and archaic food specialization for deer hunting. These unique features, along with the stagnating population trend, make the population an object of special conservation attention. The Central European lowland population, which includes the animals in Northern Bohemia, has a simpler genetic structure compared to the Carpathian wolves. The population numbers are growing slightly, probably due to its adaptability to the densely populated landscape and the year-round protection. Surprisingly to scientists, small enclaves of lowland wolves were discovered in the middle of the Carpathians. The Czech Republic and the surrounding regions have the potential to further combine wolf populations thanks to their central geographic position. However, this may depend on the adaptations of individual ecotypes and anthropogenic factors. The paper was prepared by a team of authors from institutions in four Central European countries led by molecular ecologists Pavel Hulva of Charles University and the University of Ostrava, and Barbora Černá Bolfíková from the Czech University of Life Sciences. The study was made possible by the data collected in more than a decade of monitoring of this attractive species, organized in the Czech Republic by Miroslav Kutal from Hnutí DUHA Olomouc (Friends of the Earth Czech Republic) and Mendel University in Brno, and in Slovakia by Vladislav Antal from the State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic.


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Brotherly talk about mathematics, pathology and art


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They are both 30, born a couple of minutes apart, and have a triplet sister Michaela. Jan is a pathologist, Martin a mathematician. Both are successful researchers and winners of many prestigious awards, and both enjoy painting. Here, the Balko brothers interview each other. Martin had just returned from his post-doctoral work in Israel, while Jan was getting ready to leave for a research fellowship in England text by Marcela Uhlíková  phOTO by Vladimír Šigut


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Jan Balko graduated from the Second Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. After a research fellowship at the Department of Pathology, Hospital Central del Estado de Chihuahua, Mexico, he is now on the fellowship at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham, UK. He is also assistant professor in the Institute of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Second Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Motol.

Martin interviews Jan You’ve been always drawn closer to art than me. You still paint and make illustrations – you‘ve completed two Memorix medical textbooks. Are you planning another one? Well, I illustrated the Anatomy Memorix and the Histology Memorix, of which I’m also the main author (ed: the Histology Memorix won the Jaroslav Jirsa Award for the best medical textbook of 2016). It makes me really proud, like it’s my own child – it took me hundreds of hours of sleep, I gained ten kilos while making it, and the last stage was a real labour, so the analogy fits. But we don’t rest on our laurels – we‘re still making improvements to new issues and having the books translated into foreign languages. Which of the Memorixes was more difficult? The histology one. The making of the Anatomy Memorix was like building a big

A lot of people think we’re rather peculiar lot, or even perverted. Some people just turn away when they learn of my profession.

house, the Histology Memorix was more of a cathedral, with an attached monastery, in the middle of a big city. Are you gearing up for another art project? I’d like to finish the illustrations for two more textbooks we‘re currently making, which would raise the number of my illustrated books to nine. And then I would like to switch to painting, completely unrelated to medicine. How do people respond when they hear you’re a pathologist? A lot of people think we’re rather peculiar lot, or even perverted. Some people just turn away when they learn of my profession. A colleague was at a wedding when he overheard some elderly ladies saying “a strange guy from Prague who slices up corpses” was going to visit. From that moment he told guests that he was a diagnostician, which, in fact, is a far better description of the nature of our work. Most of our patients are, after all, still alive – we spend about 90% of our work with a microscope, doing biopsy. You told me that pathology was sometimes like crime fiction. Can you recall a case that was really tough to crack? I work in a large hospital where there are plenty of such cases, so I have come across some really rare diseases. Some of them

affect only a few individuals in the world. It might be a rare type of prion disease that a pathologist can contract during the autopsy of the brain and spinal cord. I’ve been watching for its symptoms in myself for years. Other cases may be difficult due to diagnostic issues we have to face, which sometimes make us search on the molecular level. This is especially true with tumours, which we discover every day. What would you be if you were not a pathologist? I went to study medicine with the idea of becoming a pathologist. So apart from classical hospital pathology there was only one other option – forensic pathology. They may seem the same to most people but in fact they are completely different, and I wouldn’t trade one for the other. You’ve been at the Motol hospital for ten years, first as a student and now as a teacher. Have the students and medicine in general changed in this time? Current students seem much more dutiful to me, more serious. Sometimes, too much. I don’t like to see some medical students spending all their time studying – you have to relax too. It makes the study more effective.


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Martin Balko PhD graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University. He completed a research fellowship at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and currently works at Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, Israel, and the Institute of Information Technology, Czech Academy of Sciences. He is also an external staff member at the Department of Applied Mathematics, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University.

jan interviews Martin One of the first books you got as a child was about planets. Did that drive you to your future education and profession? It certainly played its part. For years I preferred physics to mathematics, but there’s another reason for that – at primary school or junior high, you don’t get too much interesting stuff in maths. The best things were waiting for me at university. Where have the conferences and fellowships taken you, and which places have you liked most? I‘ve travelled a lot – in addition to European countries, to Japan, Hong Kong, India, Australia and the USA. I particularly liked San Francisco. Right now, I’m on a post-doctoral stay in Israel. Before that I spent more than six months in Budapest. Prague is the most beautiful, though. What’s the topic of your current research? I focus on combinatorics. I especially like the Ramsey theory. Its main idea is often expressed in quite romantic words: “Absolute chaos can’t exist.” That’s because you can show that every large structure contains a well-arranged substructure, and I want to discover how large such a structure must be. The special issue is the estimation of Ramsey figures – they defy all attempts at accurate guesses, and we don’t even know their small values.

It’s true that the maths geek can seem a bit separated from reality, especially when he’s thinking about a problem such as “how do I get the guests into that hotel?” Sometimes you feed me with mathematical fun facts – can you give me one of those? Right away, I think of the Banach–Tarski paradox. Given a solid ball in three dimensional space, there is a decomposition of the ball into a finite number of disjointsubsets, which can then be put back together in a different way to yield two identical copies of the original ball. Another nice thing is the Hilbert Hotel – you have to accommodate a new guest in a fully occupied hotel with an infinite number of rooms. This can be done, even though the number of new guests is infinite. We both taught at our respective faculties. How do you like teaching, and how do the students like you?

I hope they have happy memories of the shared exercises. Or, at least, that those memories aren’t unhappy. In the last two years of my post-doctoral studies, I unfortunately had to give up teaching, but I always enjoyed it. So I’m looking forward to starting again as an assistant professor. They say the only difference between a maths geek and a homeless person is that the former carries a laptop worth 100‚000 crowns in a plastic bag. Is that true? No way. It’s true that the maths geek can seem a bit separated from reality, especially when he’s thinking about a problem such as “how do I get the guests into that hotel?” I do have a plastic bag, but it’s safely stowed in a backpack. Since you started with maths, you‘ve stopped painting. Do you plan to get back to art, or is your mathematics so creatively rewarding that there will be no more pictures? I certainly would like to try painting again. I have plenty of ideas but not enough time. Once I started painting after a seven year break, and now it’s also going to be seven years, so it’s probably about time to start again. But I may stick with mathematics, which for me is abstract art at its purest.


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Volunteering for Remembrance Day Remembrance Day, also known informally as Poppy Day, is a day of memorial in the Commonwealth of Nations. Today it is not just in remembrance for those who lost their lives in the World Wars but also for those who have fallen in any battle big or small since then texty by Kashmeera Poona  phOTO by Vladimír Šigut

Even today the 11th of November is held in the highest regard in the United Kingdom and many other countries so when Charles University decided to join the Memorial Day Event this year for the first time ever many of its current Erasmus students from Britain and Ireland were eager to volunteer their time. In total eight Erasmus students supported the collection as volunteers. A stand was put up to promote the event and sell poppies. It was a part of the Information Day of Charles University in Albertov on Saturday 11th November and there was also a stand during afternoon

of Monday 13th November in the foyer of the building of the Faculty of Education. Rebecca Barnes from the University of Southampton, on Erasmus in Prague hosted by the Faculty of Arts, stated: “Remembrance Day has always been a big deal back home, where the two-minute silence is observed in schools and workplaces alike, while many individuals buy a poppy to support veterans. For my family specifically, Remembrance Day is important as both my grandfathers served in WWII, and so we spend the day honouring them, as well as all the other sol-


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Remembrance Day has always been a big deal back home, where the two-minute silence is observed in schools and workplaces alike, while many individuals buy a poppy to support veterans. diers. While I understand why observing Remembrance Day might not be so ingrained in tradition in the Czech Republic, it seemed a shame not to honour the troops that have fought in the world wars as well as in the wars since 1989. Therefore, I decided to volunteer at the stall to try and help raise money to document their memories and recognise the sacrifice those men have made. It was great to see how many people wanted to support their troops. In fact, the support was so abundant that it surprised me the day was not more significantly celebrated prior to this year, as there was clearly a desire to observe the day.” Another student volunteer, James Rivett from the University of Kent, presently hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences, is part of the voluntary troops in Kent in the United Kingdom. He offered his recollection during the day of marching through Canterbury last year on the 11th of November; the voluntary troops were part of the parade all the way through the high street of Canterbury to the Canterbury Cathedral. When volunteering, James said: “It would be an honour to volunteer for Remembrance Day this Saturday.” During Saturday he left the stall briefly to take two minutes silence in front of the building to honour the fallen, as is tradition in the UK. Jacob Bloor from the University of Sheffield, who volunteered on Monday and who studies Czech in Prague at the Faculty of Arts, shared: “Remembrance Day is something which is taken very seriously in the UK. We have been commemorating the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers from the First World War to the present day for nearly 100 years now, and I have participated in over 5 parades in my hometown. Furthermore, I have a personal interest in Remembrance Sunday, or Veteran’s Day as it is known here in the Czech Republic, since I have relatives who have served our country in both World Wars. For me, it was an interesting experience commemorating Veteran’s Day in another country, especially in a country where there is neither a great deal of public awareness nor interest on the matter. Nevertheless, I was glad to participate in helping out with selling poppies and collecting donations. I was particularly surprised by the number we sold and the interest taken by the students and staff. I hope that one day, there will be a greater general awareness of Veteran’s Day in the Czech Republic.”

In the Czech Republic the event is called War Veteran’s Day (Den válečných veteránů). The collection organised by association Post Bellum supports their project The Memory of Nation (Paměť národa) which records mainly recollections of the veterans from World War II, but also from later conflicts Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic joined after 1989. At present in the Czech Republic there are 533 surviving veterans from World War II and 13,653 former soldiers from military conflicts after 1989 (Kuwait, Iraq, Balkan, Afghanistan or Mali). The project already recorded more than 800 stories of Czechoslovakian and Czech war veterans. The Veteran’s Day is officially recognised by the Czech Law since 2001. This and the last year are however the first ones when the event has really been recognised in the Czech Republic – e.g. the TV reporters on the Czech state TV were wearing a poppy both years. The Remembrance Poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. In the poem he refers to red poppies growing over the graves of fallen soldiers:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.” Because of the poem, the poppy has become one of the most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflicts around the world. The 11th of November is the day most countries recall the end of the hostilities of World War One in 1918. The day was inaugurated by the British King George V in the year 1919 and is also a day of remembrance for many non-Commonwealth countries. The warfare formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month. As part of the Memorial Day many countries have a tradition that at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month a one or two-minute silence is held throughout the countr


36 students Forum 04

Erasmus in Prague?

Students from across Europe flock to study for a semester or a year at Charles University in the magnificent city of Prague through the Erasmus project which proudly celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Alex Leadbitter from De Montfort University in Leicester, England, discovers just what it is that has attracted another group of students who will shortly be arriving in the city to start their Erasmus year at the university texty by Alex Leadbitter  phOTO by Thinkstock

The sheer beauty of Prague would be more than enough of a reason by itself to choose to sign up for an Erasmus placement in the city. The opportunity to live in this incredibly charming city should not be passed up lightly. However, Prague has a lot more to offer than just stunning views, idyllic sights and spectacular architecture. The Czech capital is often described as the heart of Europe, not just because of its geographical location, but also because of the deep history and culture that fills the streets and is around every corner. Culturally, Prague is up there with the most captivating cities in the world. Once in the centre, there is

no escape from the many cultural extravagances that Prague has to offer. Seemingly every building you walk past has a plaque attached to it that explains some sort of historical and cultural significance, and with tour guides dotted all around the city, it is easy to get engrossed in the culture and become educated as to just how momentous the city and its buildings are. Prague is famous for being steeped in culture and that is a motivation for many of the students that choose to sign up for Erasmus here. Greek student Margkerita Alaia, who is from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens,


37 students Forum 04

explained why she will be taking Theatre Studies at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts during the 2017–18 year. She said: “Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. There are a lot of students and young people with different cultures and ideas, and with same or different interests than me. I applied to come here and I’m really glad that I’ll have the opportunity to study abroad the subject that I love. I’ll practise my English and I’ll learn to live by myself and become independent.” Similarly, Political Science and Civics student Malin Alsered Pihlström, arriving from Stockholm University in Sweden to CU’s Faculty of Science, said: “Immersing yourself into other cultures is an important part of my studies. The opportunity to experience the life at a university in another country and meet new people from all around the world would not only give me the practical knowledge that would be of great benefit to my continued studies with Global Development, but also be an amazing adventure for me that I would highly appreciate.” These two students, one from Greece and the other from Sweden, show recognition towards Prague’s deep cultural background despite being from very different cultural roots themselves. Furthermore, in terms of education, Prague is well known for providing excellent schooling to its students, so a chance to study here is a great opportunity for anybody looking for an amazing experience studying with some of the world’s best lecturers and teachers. Prague is home to Charles University, one of the oldest universities in the world. Established in 1348 and named after King and Emperor Charles IV, this university takes immense pride in its rich history and it is easy to see why as it is one of the most fascinating and historic universities on our planet. Some of the most decorated people in Czech history are Charles University alumni, such as Jaroslav Heyrovský, who was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1959, and Edvard Beneš, who earnt a PhD in Philosophy and became the second Czechoslovak president in 1935. These are just two examples out of a vast number of people who have studied in Charles University and Prague, and have gone on to become globally renowned. The Erasmus programme gives students from around Europe the opportunity to follow in their footsteps and make successes of themselves. As Inês Isabel Costa Carvalho, a Portuguese Pharmacy student coming from the University of Porto to the CU campus in Hradec Králové, said: “My application to enrol in this international experience derives not only from my personal aspirations – to face new challenges in a foreign environment and deal with different people and mentalities – but also from my academic interest – to get a taste of what studying abroad really means and what methods are used in my field of studies in different countries.” She added that the way that students are taught at Charles University is different to her country, which means that students can have their eyes opened to a completely new way of learning in an efficient, enjoyable and interesting manner. Living in Prague and other CU university cities Hradec Králové and Pilsen is also financially appealing as

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. There are a lot of students and young people with different cultures and ideas, and with same or different interests than me. I applied to come here and I’m really glad that I’ll have the opportunity to study abroad the subject that I love. almost everything in the Czech Republic is relatively cheap compared to the UK and a large portion of Western Europe, so being able to live there on a student’s income should be no problem at all for most. Even when you go right into the city centre, the food, drink and activities are often much cheaper than many major cities in Europe. You can easily find a place to have a full meal and not pay much more than the equivalent of 10 Euros. Not to mention all the street performers, museums and oddities that are scattered across the entire city. Antonio Emilio García Martínez, a Spanish Sociology and Cultural Studies student from the University of Granada who will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts of CU next semester, said: “I would like to take part in the Erasmus scheme because I think it is an experience to develop myself as a person and grow up. I have chosen the Czech Republic because it is a beautiful country and it’s quite cheaper than mine, so I can afford my stance with my scholarship.” Which emphasises how accessible it can be for students across Europe to live in Prague throughout their Erasmus experience. The Erasmus programme connects students from all over Europe by not only enhancing their education through proven academic techniques, but also by giving them the chance of a lifetime, to spend a year living in one of the most fascinating and beautiful cities in the world.

Alex Leadbitter is a Journalism student at De Montfort University in Leicester, England. Having completed his first year studying journalism, Alex has broadened his mind about the avenue which he could potentially work in and hopes to pinpoint a journalism career in the coming years.


American Indian Identities


39 books Forum 04

Identity, Tradition, and Revitalization of American Indian Cultures Barbora Půtová Karolinum Press paperback, 234 pp. ISBN 9788024635620

As the title “Identity, Tradition, and Revitalization of American Indian Cultures” suggests, this work analyzes the construction of indigenous identities, both pre-contract and postcontact, and how indigenous cultures and peoples attempt to reimagine their complex identities during this so-called era of self-determination. Problematically, identity is both a personal and cultural construct text by Danica Mil  phOTO by Karolinum Press

← Wearing traditional clothing is one of demon-

strations of Mayan identity. Decorative motifs on the clothing express the sense of belonging to a particular ethnic group.

How much cultural identity is shaped by reactions to and against outside cultural forces? What aspects of cultural identity are bound to traditional practices? These tricky, and ultimately, unanswerable questions are probed throughout this issue. The breadth contained therein such diverse topics as early Mayan civilization to contemporary indigenous language immersion programs. One standout essay, Radoslav Hlúšek’s “Being Indian in Mexico: Problems of Identity in Nahua villages of Hueyapan and Santa Clara Huitziltepec” details identity association through two seemingly identical towns. Another standout essay, Marek Halbich’s “Tourism, Marginalization and Commercialization of Art in a small Indigenous Village in the

Peruvian Andes,” reveals how broad national socio-economic concerns can affect the identity construction of a small village. Although an informative and interesting read, a diverse work such as this can only briefly touch upon the broad historical strokes responsible for colonization of the Americas. Notably, the book lacks more than a gesture toward current indigenous theories. There was no attempt to examine the concepts of identity and tradition as themselves westernized constructs. Despite the lack of indigenous theoretical perspectives, however, this collection is a well-rounded introduction to the indigenous Americas and the complex attendant issues of identity and tradition.


40 books Forum 04

The Atlas of Religions in the Czech Republic Havlíček, Tomáš et al. Karolinum Press hardcover, 224 pp. ISBN 9788024637945

Experts map the (dis)believing Czech Republic The Czech Republic has one of the lowest rates of religious believers in the world and experts from Charles University have now mapped the strength of various religions in different regions of the country and compared levels of religiosity to everything from divorce rates to voter turnout. The team from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development at the Faculty of Science has created dozens of maps using self-declared data from citizens after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The authors of “The Atlas of Religions in the Czech Republic“ Tomáš Havlíček, Kamila Klingorová and Jakub Lysák, used vast amounts of data, including information collected by the Czech Statistical Office during the regular censuses. The maps clearly show how the strength of various religions in different regions has changed during the last 20 years. Various Christian churches are frequently

featured, but readers can also learn about the regional strength of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and other denominations. “We primarily focused on religions registered with the Ministry of Culture. We used the current data from 2011 as well as older information as we wanted to see the whole development after 1989,” said Tomáš Havlíček. One oddity they discovered in the mapping exercise was the level of declared support for a pseudo-religion not registered with the ministry – the Jedi church. During the 2011 census, about 15‚000 Czech citizens claimed to believe in the moral values of Jedi knights from the Star Wars film series. Some of them did so just for fun and others to express their objections to being asked the question; nevertheless, the sheer number of the “Jediists” outnumbered some traditional churches! The second part of the atlas was based on a field survey conducted in recent years. The researchers selected


41 books Forum 04

Jehovah’s Witnesses, state 2011

Roman Catholic Church, share of all believers, 2011

Náboženská společnost Svědkové Jehovovi, stav 2011

20.1

87

) "

Podíl věřících příslušné církve na celkovém počtu obyvatel (v procentech) Share of denominalists of the given church from the total population (in percent)

1 – 30

) "

31 – 100

) "

101 – 300

) "

301 – 800

) "

394 – 3 000

) "

3 001 – 7 000

0,06 – 0,10

) "

7 001 – 15 000

0,11 – 0,20

) "

15 001 – 30 000

0,21 – 0,30

maximum: 1 764 (Praha) minimum: 1 (Židlochovice)

) " " )

maximum: 0,62 (Český Těšín) minimum: 0,00 (Židlochovice)

" )

28

" )

114

) "

) "

86

Podíl věřících příslušné církve na celkovém počtu věřících (v procentech) Share of denominalists of the given church from all believers (in percent) 23,01 – 35,00 35,01 – 45,00 45,01 – 55,00

30 001 – 80 158

147

168

57

170

) "

" )

21

) "

) "

" )

) "

" )

) "

153

77

) "

131

11

69

117

95

" ) " )

) "

142

138

3

150

) "

47

" )

118

" )

) "

83

143

159

2

) "

" )

141 " ) " )

8

140

" )

" )

194

38

" )

) "

204

50

166

" )

) "

) "

" )

128

) "

44

70

129

) "

62

187

" )

" )

171

6

18

" )

158

" )

155

178

) "

160

) "

144

" )

174

108

) "

125

" )

16

154

) "

206

" )

" )

" )

133

51

201

98

" )

) "

64

" )

" )

23

175

" )

" ) 25

" )

" )

162

103

112

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

174

169

27

171

108

" )

" ) 144

82

) " )" 12

" ) 105

" )

163

206

" )

154

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

125

16

" ) " )

" )

34

116

49

" ) 179

" )

33

185

" ) 18

42

84

51

133

87

" ) 81

" )

" )

56

" )

104

" ) 139

198

122

" )

" )

) " " ) " ) " ) " ) " ) 73

" )

137

9

123

5

119

120

" )

40

" ) " )

" )

90

" ) 6

" ) " ) " " )) " ) " )" )

79

121

190

164

72

" ) " ) " )

" )

" ) " )

" )

" )

10

187

" ) " )

181

102

" )

" )

62

" )

" )

134

98

" ) 200

" )

68

37

26

" ) 176

" ) 58

36

146

" ) 196

191

" ) 94

" ) 184

" ) 180

188

41

15

" )

" )

204

201

172

66

" )

14

149

199

89

39

17

" )

193

15

25

0

155

178

" ) 136

) "

38

80

" )

" )

85

22

" )

165

" )

" )

" ) " ) ) " ) "

50

" )

41

" )

) "

126

128

" )

189

" )

180

" )

" ) " )

" )

188

) "

54

161

192

166

158

160

" )

184

" )

) "

) "

172

" )

" )

" )

) "

84

105

94

179

" )

" )

104

" )

175

194

" )

" )

200

" )

163

" )

56

" )

27

23

12

" )

64

" )

" )

136

" )

) "

" )

" )

169

" )

193 " )

189

196 191

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

75

183

197

55

19

" )

202

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

43

83

129

" )

) "

81

" )

151

99

7

44

70

" ) " )

" )

" )

" )

) "

198

" ) 109

) "

82 ) "

8

140

45

31

42

141

60 148

74

" )

127

2

" ) " )

" )

" ) " )

" )

" )

" )

" ) 29

" )

138

71

150

" )

113

48

" )

" )

24

30

" )

" )

146

) "

47

130

" )

59

132

" )

" )

20

115

" )

117

95

11

" )

" )

" )

" )

13

107

32

" ) 46

" )

" )

" )

143

" )

157

" )

58

" )

36

) "

185

139

" )

) "

33

87

" )

) "

137

) "

49

" )

) "

10

" )

17

" )

) "

110

" )

" )

111

61

" )

173

" ) " )

" )

" )

3

" )

176

73

) "

116

) "

77

" )

" )

118

159

" )

" )

153

135

" )

" )

167

26

34

) "

" )

120

72

112

" )

126

" )

99

" )

7

90

" )

" )

119

" )

" )

" )

109

37

" )

5 " )

" )

" )

" )

123

190 ) "

164

103

134 " )

45 ) "

31

) "

" )

162

" )

161

192

" )

151

39

68

" )

" )

152

177

101

100

" )

" )

" )

122

" )

" ) " )

181

" )

102

" ) " )

54

" ) " )

9

" )

69

142

76

) "

40

121

" )

199

89

) " " )

30

" )

130 157

22 " )

maximum: 84,45 (Valašské Klobouky) minimum: 23,01 (Bílina)

" " ) ) 168 57 " ) " ) " ) 205 " ) 63 195 " )

" )

97

" )

" ) " )

96 ) "

21

" )

145

131

67

156

" )

79 ) "

149

" )

85

" )

55

19

) "

" )

" )

) "

" )

14

86

" )

" )

" )

52

165

" )

88 93

92

203

) "

75

" )

) "

) "

20

" )

202 " )

183

" )

197

" )

80 ) "

" )

43

) "

" )

167

) "

148 " )

" )

127

" )

) "

71 ) "

" )

1

" )

" )

132

" )

24

" )

76

60

74

" ) 135

) "

" )

) "

29

48

114

" )

" )

" )

65

" )

" )

4

106

53

" )

124

78

" )

" )

" ) " )

" )

" )

113

) "

" )

115

) "

) "

52

96

) "

59

65,01 – 84,45

35

28

182

170

91

" )

13

107

" )

46

110

" )

67

156

61

" )

1

" )

) "

100

" )

) "

32

" ) " )

97

203

" )

" )

" )

" )

" ) " )

173 " )

111 " )

145

92

) "

195

152

" )

101

" )

93

" )

) "

65

63

) "

) "

177

88

" )

4

) "

106

53

205

) "

91

" )

" )

124

) "

78

) "

" )

" )

186

" )

182

" )

55,01 – 65,00

" )

maximum: 80 158 (Praha) minimum: 394 (Bílina)

35

" )

186

" )

) "

0,31 – 0,62

147

22

Roman Catholic Church, share of all believers, 2011

Počet věřících příslušné církve Count of denominalists of the given church

0,00 – 0,05

) 801 – 1 764 "

Církev římskokatolická, podíl na počtu věřících, 2011

2.2

Jehovah’s Witnesses, state 2011

Počet věřících příslušné církve Count of denominalists of the given church

66

25 km

0

25 km

Církev římskokatolická, podíl na počtu obyvatel, 2011

2.3

23

Roman Catholic Church, share of the total population, 2011

Počet věřících příslušné církve Count of denominalists of the given church

) "

394 – 3 000

) "

3 001 – 7 000

) "

7 001 – 15 000

) "

15 001 – 30 000

) "

Podíl věřících příslušné církve na celkovém počtu obyvatel (v procentech) Share of denominalists of the given church from the total population (in percent) 1,94 – 7,00 7,01 – 14,00 14,01 – 20,00

30 001 – 80 158

147

maximum: 80 158 (Praha) minimum: 394 (Bílina)

" )

1

" )

" )

" )

141

8

140

" )

" )

194

" )

" )

126

166

155

64

" )

" )

" )

23

136

175

" )

" ) 25

172

" )

" )

39

204

50

" )

" )

162

103

112

" )

" )

187

" ) 169

" ) 27

171

" )

" )

174

108

" )

" ) 144

82

12

" ) 201

163

206

" )

154

" )

" ) 98

" )

" )

" )

125

16

" ) " )

" )

34

116

49

" ) 179

" )

33

185

" ) 18

42

84

51

133

" ) 81

" )

" )

56 105

87

139

198

) " )"

" )

" )

104

" )

" )

122

" )

" )

) " " ) " ) " ) " ) " ) 73

" ) 137

6

9

123

5

119

120

" )

" ) " ) " )

40

" ) " )

72

10

" ) " ) " " )) " ) " )" )

79

121

190

" )

90

" )

" ) " )

" ) 164

" )

" )

" )

62

181

102

" )

17

" )

" )

" )

134

) " ) "

38

" )

193

189

" )

" )

178

" ) " )

" )

14

149

199

89

161

128

" )

158

160

54

" )

129

" )

" )

80

" )

" )

85

22

" )

165

" )

" )

" )

" )

75

183

197

" )

202

" )

" )

55

19

" ) " )

43

" )

" ) " )

192

60 148

74

" )

83

" )

" ) " )

48

" )

" )

" )

" )

44

70

151

99

7

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

109

" )

" ) 29

127

138

2

" ) " )

" )

157

113

" )

" )

71

" )

30

" )

59

132

" )

24

150

" )

115

" )

117

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

" )

20

47

130

45

31

" )

107

32

" ) 46

95

11

13

" )

" )

111

61

" )

173

" ) " )

" )

" )

" )

143

" )

" )

110

" )

177

100

" )

" )

3

" )

159

77

" )

" ) 118

" )

153

135

76

" )

" )

" )

69

142

167

maximum: 48,64 (Valašské Klobouky) minimum: 1,94 (Bílina)

" " ) ) 168 57 " ) " ) " ) 205 " ) 63 195 " ) 152

" )

97

" )

" )

" )

21

" )

145

" )

96

" )

" )

131

" )

86

101

93

" )

67

156

" )

" )

92

203

" )

114

88

4

" )

52

28

" )

" )

106

" )

65

" )

182

170

91

53

" )

35

" )

" )

" )

" ) " ) " )

124

78

30,01 – 48,64

" )

" ) 186

" )

" )

20,01 – 30,00

" )

" ) 200

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Roman Catholic Church, share of the total population, 2011

ten model regions of the Czech Republic, and searched for sacral objects in the landscape. This showed the location of Christian churches, crosses, synagogues, cemeteries and various monuments and also Buddhist shrines or places related to alternative religions, such as oracles. The third part of the atlas not only reflects how the religion is shown in the landscape and in the environment but also in the everyday life of the society. These maps describe the relations between religiosity and selected regional, socio-economic and demographic phenomena, such as divorce rate, unemployment, crime rate or voter turnout, which is currently a very topical issue. The atlas also offers maps of church restoration in different areas. It is the first time an atlas of this kind has been published in the Czech Republic, with the authors taking their inspiration from work done in other countries.

As the atlas provides a lot of information that will interest foreign readers, it has been produced in both Czech and English. As well as being useful for experts, church representatives, local government and students of various academic disciplines, it should also be interesting for the general public who want to learn more about levels of religious belief in the country. The Atlas of Religions in the Czech Republic is one of the results of the project „Development, Transformation and Differentiation of Religion in Czech Republic in the Context of Global and European Changes“supported by the Czech Science Foundation. Tomáš Havlíček is currently leading a new project focused on post-secularism in the Czech Republic, which should be a hot topic in relation to the migration crisis. text by Helena Zdráhalová

The atlas clearly shows the presence and strength of different religions in different regions.


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Myths and tales from Prague Zoo

When Miroslav Bobek graduated in zoology from the Faculty of Science at Charles University, the last thing on his mind was becoming a scientist. His big thing was popularizing science through projects such as the African Odyssey or Revelation, which focused on the lives of storks and gorillas respectively. We caught up with him to talk about his current role as director of Prague Zoo and hear some fascinating stories from the zoo’s past and present texty by Lucie Kettnerová  phOTO by Luboš Wišniewski and Prague Zoo


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Where did you get your love of nature? And were you chasing lizards in meadows as a child? My mother’s dad was a passionate hunter and fisherman and mum taught biology, so I was really immersed in nature. And you’re right, I did catch lizards and butterflies as I child, and made various collections and had lots of pets. So the Faculty of Science was your only choice? At high school, the maths teacher persuaded me to go and study in the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, but in the end I graduated in special biology and ethology, which was in fact systematic zoology. However, I never embraced the ambition to be a scientist – popularizing science was more of my thing during my studies and I also worked on the radio thanks to Dr. Jan Hanzák, head of the zoological department of the National Museum and also the managing editor of the show “The World of Animals”. How did you choose your subjects for the Czech Radio station? Mostly I chose what I thought would be interesting or important for me and the audience alike. I remember resisting efforts to push me into a show on agriculture which was being aired at that time. There was a lot of creative freedom in Czech Radio, so I was free to prepare various popularization projects. For example, we managed to get a dinosaur egg, and then used tomography in Střešovice Hospital to find out what was inside. I did this project in cooperation with Associate Professor Jaroslav Marek from the department of paleontology. But the most popular project was the African Odyssey, as we followed the stork, Kristýna, from Brdy Hills in the Czech Republic to Eastern Senegal.

We had a father who held his child by the feet to grab his cellphone from the pen. Unbelievable.

each of them was allocated some budget for promotion. I felt it was pointless to advertise just on billboards and similar media and wanted to create an event. And so Revelation was born – in the end, it wasn’t just on the radio and Internet, but also on TV. Was it a surprise how many people were interested in the everyday life of gorillas? At the start, I didn’t believe the gorillas were going to matter that much. But the popularity they gained was immense. At the times when Revelation was broadcast as “a different reality show”, everything was OK. But as years went by, and when I started working at the zoo, a group of people were following the gorillas on the Internet, and a few of them didn’t hesitate to call the keepers at midnight, to say something was going on in the pen. They thought they knew everything about the apes. In the end, they started telling us that our standard of care was poor, and even started threatening the master keeper. Then we had to stop the show. As the director, you obviously know the weak points of such projects. Would you let similar popularization enthusiasts into your zoo? It’s hard to give a simple answer to that. When I first came to the zoo to present Revelation idea, I was backed by Czech Radio. I had the essential part of my team, and I also had references as I had been successful in several projects like this already. So, if someone I’ve heard of came now and had already done similar stuff, I’d appreciate it. Yet, knowing only too well what can happen, I’d like to have the power of veto, or the right to supervise the project from the zoo. It can indeed be a dangerous game. Does Prague Zoo currently undertake its own research projects? We don’t have our own research department, even though it would be nice. Our curators cooperate on several projects, with scientists and undergraduates doing their research here. Among the projects, we support ethno-zoological research in Cameroon and plan large investments into research activities related to the Asian Wild Horse – Equus ferus przewalskii.

How come shows like this aren’t aired anymore? For a project of this type, you need the idea and the will to make it happen, and also bosses that are willing and able to take risks. It took some courage in the early 1990s to buy satellite transmitters, fasten them to the storks and organize the African expedition without having the slightest idea how it could all end. But Libor Vacek, the head of Dvojka – Praha station, and Vlasta Ježek as CEO, had the courage to make it happen.

How successful are your commercial projects, such as “A Keeper for a Day”? There are plenty of these programmes and they are expensive – not that we are that greedy, but we need to limit the number of applicants as it’s totally impossible for us to satisfy everyone. Recently I’ve written: If you want, book yourself the sea lion training session for 2025. I was of course exaggerating, but not that much. Our events are sold out for months ahead. But we’re not a circus. As for “A Keeper for a Day”, we can’t let different people into the pens of giraffes or elephants every day. That’s why the demand is much bigger than we can meet.

Even more popular was Revelation, the live show about gorillas in Prague Zoo. At first, it was just a promo event for the new infotainment station Leonardo. At that time, stations were being established for the future digital broadcasting, and

Has the behaviour of zoo visitors and their approach to animals changed for the better or for worse? It’s getting worse, and I don’t mean only foreign tourists. Probably it’s the general mood in society, and the idea that people can do whatever they want. Often you


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When I have guests, I often take them to see the aardvarks, they are cute as hell, or the giraffes.

just stare in disbelief. A mother doesn’t watch her child, he goes somewhere on his own and reaches out to the monkey cage. A monkey bites his fingers, which of course is a bad thing, but then we’re to blame and the mother is ready to sue us. Sometimes you can see people holding up their children above the fences so they can see better… We had a father who held his child by the feet to grab his cellphone from the pen. Unbelievable. Or a man got took a stroll in a male elephant’s pen, even though the elephant could have killed him. You can’t avoid that kind of behaviour – you just have to build bigger fences to keep the people out rather than to keep the animals in. Are you constantly worried about what could happen next? If I was I wouldn’t be sitting here, but up there in the Bohnice psychiatric ward. Of course, it’s stressful. The worst thing is when you’re travelling abroad and you get a message that something has just happened, but you don’t have all the details. However, walking around the area, I always try to anticipate and avoid the problems. Recently we took the kids to their grandmother’s and went to a fun park.

There was an iron rug in front of the local supermarket, and it was a bit deformed, so I immediately took out my phone to take a picture of it because it needed fixing… that’s what you call professional deformation. What about your crisis communication? For the media, everything that happens in the zoo is probably interesting. In the beginning, I did most of the crisis communications myself. It’s very important to respond quickly, and choose the best possible form. And in the case of a major problem, it’s the director who has most information and he’s also entitled to use it. What’s more, I worked in the media, so I generally know what to do in specific situations. For example, when several ibises escaped from the zoo, I was wondering what to do about it. And then I decided to admit everything at once, and I tweeted about it. A colleague called me and told me that I was crazy, that it was a bad idea to let people know about it. I told her I may have rushed it a bit, ended the call, and immediately saw a message that the remaining ibises were also gone. So I added this information to the previous tweet. To make things even more exciting, the ibises decided to visit the media personally – some of them perched


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themselves on the window sill of Aktuálně.cz, others squatted in front of Blesk. But the journalists had already read that the birds had escaped, and started helping us look for other refugees. At that moment, they had the basic information, and this changed the angle of the story completely. Instead of “those silly people lost some animals again” the story turned into “it’s cold and it’s necessary to catch and save the birds”. A reality show of sorts started, and it was great. Everybody started looking for our ibises, and were keeping fingers crossed for us, and even helped with the catch. So, the story had a happy ending. Then I used the topic once more, this time on the billboards – come and see them, all of them are safely back again. It turned into a big promo event, but in the beginning, it was nothing more than crisis communications. Do you ever turn off your phone at home, or are you always within reach? No, I can’t turn off my phone. Once it ran out of power, and a flood came. I was out of reach for about half an hour and they kept calling me all the time. Fortunately, my wife had her phone on. Do you have a special favourite animal that you visit just because you want to? I like to visit the elephants in their new home. When I have guests, I often take them to see the aardvarks, they are cute as hell, or the giraffes. When I’m on my own, I go to other places, interesting places for me for various reasons. Now we have baby tigers, so I often come to see them. It’s changes all the time. Do you think it is really possible that we’ll have a panda in Prague? It’s totally possible. It is more politics or zoological competence? Every important animal becomes involved with political stuff. I often take part in negotiations with high politicians, ministers and the like, when it comes to animals. And with pandas, it’s even more important.

On the other hand though, the whole business is quite overblown in the Czech society and media, and it’s misused in the political struggles. Take Berlin, for example: they just quickly built a new pavilion, it was ceremonially opened by the Chancellor and the Chinese President – it’s a normal part of their international policy. So yes, the pandas are political stuff to a large extent, but the political consequences are absurdly exaggerated here – as though we would become a Chinese colony if we had a panda. If it was true the world would be full of Chinese colonies, such as the US, UK, France, Denmark, Germany or Austria. By the way, there are pandas are in Taiwan, too! But pandas aren’t the only interesting thing for us in China. We have started cooperating in other ways too, and our position there is good. We’ve facilitated contacts between the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and the best Chinese zoos. How far have you come in the preparations for getting the pandas? We have the architectural project design of the pavilion. But don’t get me wrong, pandas aren’t the top priority for us. Of big projects, the most important is the new gorilla house. Number two are polar bears, and pandas come third. The gorilla house is now in the building permit procedure, and the polar bear pavilion project is being finished. As for pandas, we have the aforementioned architectural project design, and they are listed in the investment plan.


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What success are you most proud of? From the historic point of view, the most important thing for Prague Zoo is the breeding of the Asian Wild Horse – Equus ferus przewalskii. Nowadays, there’s no problem keeping them, but we started it 80 years ago, and did it perfectly. That’s why we keep the World Breeding Book for this species. Now we’re actively involved in getting the horses back to Mongolia, which is logistically very challenging. There are hundreds of them living in the wild, sometimes in very suitable areas, others not so much. We have already transported 27 horses to the Mongolian reserve Gobi B using military airplanes. What are the other things you like at the zoo, in addition to animals? I enjoy breaking down the myths that are often linked with the zoo. Sometimes, you just stare in amazement when you hear the rumours. For example, word has it that the first Prague elephant, Baby, was a member of the anti-Nazi resistance. When a Wehrmacht soldier approached him, Baby sprayed him with filthy water. But then I saw a postcard of Baby, reaching with his trunk to uniformed soldiers. It seemed really friendly, and I started wondering whether the original story was true. So I began investigating, and found out it wasn’t the Wehrmacht at all, but railroad uniforms, and the perpetrator wasn’t Baby but a hippo that was standing next to him. This hippo hated uniforms, especially railroad types, because the zoo bought it in the 1930s from a circus. The previous owners transported it from one stop to another by train, and the railroad men always took sticks and spires and forced the hippo into the car. So it associated the railroad uniforms with this painful procedure, hated the men, and became aggressive every time it saw people in such uniforms.

Miroslav Bobek has been director of Prague Zoo since 2010. He graduated in zoology from the Faculty of Science, Charles University, and from 1993 and 2009 he worked for Czech Radio, primarily involved in popularization of science. In 1994, he initiated the “African Odyssey”, a project using satellite and VHF telemetry to monitor the migration of black storks from the Czech Republic to African winter resorts. Later, he led another project called Revelation – a “different reality show” – with gorillas, which was launched at Prague Zoo in autumn 2005. For the project, Czech Radio received the “Wildlife Oscar” at the prestigious Wildscreen show in Bristol, and the Comenius EduMedia award in Berlin.

Or we have an adit here, and people started asking where the tunnel goes. Some elderly people told me it would take you all the way to St. Clara, and that it’s a vineyard corridor. Allegedly, three zoo workers went there some 30 years ago, and one of them fainted as the corridor was full of methane. The others had to drag him away, and no one has ever tried to go there since. So I went there with a couple of people and found out that it was just a short adit, dug in the second half of the 19th century, when people were looking for raw materials for the production of sulphuric acid. Another survey revealed a magazine with ammunition for Arisaka rifles, brought by legionaries and used during military training. Rumour had it that numerous weapons were secretly stored in the adit during the war, and then used in the battle for the Troja bridge. Probably some rifles with ammo were also hidden there and one of the magazines remained. I was also wondering why the vineyard house Sklenářka, above the giraffes, was called “Hangman’s House”. When I asked my colleague Jiří Kotek, who’s been working at the zoo for dozens of years, he warned me not to use the term as the house was never used by a hangman. People said that the executioner Mydlář lived there, but it’s not true. Then I came across the memories of a lady from Troja who said that she had met an armed watchman there in the 1930s, and that a movie had been shot there. So I dug deeper and found out that it was the Psohlavci movie, made in 1931, the first Czechoslovakian blockbuster. And in this film, Sklenářka was used as the place of execution of Jan Sladký Kozina. It’s said that even in the 1950s kids from the local school were taken to the place and their teacher told them that it had been Kozina’s gallows pole. This all belongs to the story of the zoo.


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close-up at CU Fund-raising campaign to restore the central library of Mosul University in Iraq The library of the Faculty of Arts, in cooperation with the People in Need Foundation, calls for a public financial donation for the reconstruction of the Central Library of the University of Mosul, Iraq. Anybody can donate any amount either cash to an official cashbox, or by bank transfer.

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Week for Education points out flaws The postgraduate students in various faculties of Charles University (and also other Czech universities and colleges) demand higher scholarships and better setup of the whole system of postgraduate education. On Thursday, October 5, a lot of student gatherings took place at the university, as part of the Week for Education – the event that aims at raising the public awareness of the fatal underfunding of the university education in the country.

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Carolinum transforms again as celebrations of archeology and enthusiasm from discoveries take place On the third Saturday in October, archaeological organizations all around the world present their programs on the International Archaeology Day. In Prague, the event is traditionally organized by the Faculty of Arts, Charles University. The International Archaeology Day was celebrated for the 4th time in Czechia, and for the 7th time globally.

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CU at the science festival

Charles University became the main partner of the 17th year of the biggest scientific festival in the country – the Week of Science and Technology, organized by the Czech Academy of Sciences. This year, the visitors could choose from more than 300 events.

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The Faculty of Science has a new emblem For years, the Faculty of Science used the seal of Charles University as its emblem, with the Latin inscription Facultas rerum naturalium. Though the faculty was already used to it, this emblem couldn’t be used any more for several reasons. There was a competition for a new one, and the winning design depicts a simple tree growing out of a book.

Faculty of Law awakes at night

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“I’ve been teaching for twenty years, but I’ve never seen such a packed classroom, let alone at this hour,” said enthusiastically Professor Jan Kuklík, Dean of the Faculty of Law, as he greeted the audience at the Night of the Faculty at 8 PM. On November 8, the multi-genre festival at the faculty attracted hundreds of visitors, and some of the events even had to move into bigger rooms.


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Jan Opletal has a statue at the First Medical Faculty 10th November was dedicated to the memory of Jan Opletal, student of the Faculty of Medicine. This year, the memorial act at the university involved the unveiling of a statue in the classroom of the 1st Department of Surgery at the First Faculty of Medicine.

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Charles University commemorates 17th of November 17 / 11

Students and academic staff of universities and colleges once more commemorated the events from 1939 and 1989, important for the history of the Czech nation. Many people that attended the memorial gathering in Ječná Street joined the celebrations of 17th November at Albertov, the starting point of the procession of students and teachers to Národní Street 28 years ago. The route of the 1989 procession became a running track for dozens of runners in the #runjinak race. At Albertov, the participants of the gathering were greeted by Tomáš Zima, Charles University rector. The program in the rainy weather started with the student anthem Gaudeamus Igitur, followed by speeches of guests. “As citizens, we have the possibility to affect public affairs by our everyday actions,” said rector Zima, who repeatedly appreciated the importance of the struggle for freedom and democracy, and emphasized that Albertov would become once more the protest venue, if these values were endangered. The official part of the celebrations ended with the national anthem and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. Then, the celebration went on in the premises of the nearby Faculty of Science.


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For the second time, the International Students’ Day and the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy became the opportunity to announce the Ernest of Pardubice Award for outstanding feats in teaching and education at Charles University. The celebration was held in the Grand Hall of the Carolinum. In his speech, Rector Tomáš Zima pointed out the extremely important role of students and educated people for the development of democracy and civil society. “The more educated the society, the smaller is the risk that it could be manipulated or intimidated. In these times, we must remember this as well as before.”


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On Tuesday, November 28, hundreds of visitors of the Carolinum shared the same goal – to find a job they dream of. The labor market fair “Absolvent 2017” was designed for people interested in full time jobs, part time work or internship.

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Work, part-time jobs or internships were offered at the Graduate Recruitment and Placement Fair

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Attentat 1942 has major success in championship of independent games A videogame produced by Charles University researchers succeeded in the international competition of independent game developers Game Development World Championship 2017. At the ceremony in Helsinki, Finland, the Czech game was awarded with the second place.


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Christmas carols, live nativity scenes, the light show, or a raffle with faculty presents – everything was there at the University Advent in the Carolinum. The program also featured the lecture by Miloš Sládek on the advent traditions of the past.

Saint Stephen Gathering

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The traditional Christmas meeting of the Charles University Alumni Club took place in the Church of Our Lady Before Týn. The tour to the church was guided by art historian Professor Jan Royt.


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Awarding of honorary scientific degree doctor Honoris Causa in Carolinum text by P.  G.  phOTO by René Volfík

On Monday, November 20, Professor Christopher Albert Sims, Nobel Prize winner for economics, and Professor Joseph Wang from the University of California were awarded with the honorary title “doctor honoris causa”. Professor Christopher Albert Sims, one of the founders of modern economics, became a member of the Executive and Supervisory Board of CERGE-EI in 2013. In his speech, he appreciated the positive development of this institution, to

which he’s also linked due to his cooperation with the very promising researcher Filip Matějka. Professor Sims received his Charles University diploma from Associate Professor Michal Kejak. Another awarded researcher was Professor Joseph Wang, electroanalytical chemist respected all over the world, who has been cooperating with Czech scientists for over 30 years. Professor Ladislav Feltl gave him the honorary doctoral title based on the proposal of the Faculty of Science.


University and Republic:

100 Years

of Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic Legacy of Democracy, Humanism and Responsibility International Rectors’ Conference October 24  – 25, 2018 In the important year of 2018, Charles University will be organising an international conference on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic. The conference will be organised in cooperation with UNICA, Coimbra Group, LERU and Europaeum. The conference will be attended by leading personalities of prestigious foreign universities, such as the University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, University of Vienna, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and the European University Institute. The conference will be opened together with the Rector of Charles University and other distinguished guests like the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová. The objective of the conference is to discuss the important topics such as Legacy of Democracy, Humanism and Responsibility in relation to the significant “figure-eight anniversary” of independence of Czechoslovakia from an international perspective. Representatives of Charles university, Czech and international universities will debate at different panels about the University’s present-day national and international role. This unique connection of leading world experts with the general public will strengthen the revival of historic memory, awareness of the importance of the year 1918 in an international context. The meeting will be held in the Karolinum building, which witnessed this important moment of history and the turning of Prague into a capital city of the new country.


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