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Palacký University
06-01-2015, 11:23, Age: 4 y.

The Fortress of Knowledge Begins Extending Science

By: M. Šaradínová, P. Konečný

A centre for the popularisation of science at Palacký University, called the Fortress of Knowledge, opened its doors in April to visitors. Its goal is to acquaint the greater public with science and inspire the youngest generation toward science and research. Its most stellar attractions are its planetarium, gyroscope, and models of the eye, brain, and river bed.

The centre is based on live interaction and animated programmes. “Thanks to our connection with the Faculty of Sciences, the guardians at the Fortress of Knowledge are real experts,” said Matěj Dostálek, Director of the science centre. In his opinion the interactive exhibits support the concept of informal education. “Our educational programmes supplement school curricula. We would like to contribute to the education of a whole generation of children and develop future university students,” Dostálek stated.

Dean Ivo Frébort commented that the Faculty of Sciences is strongly research-oriented. “Sometimes we have the feeling that we are unable to communicate our findings to the general public. Now that we have the Fortress of Knowledge and its bastion of experts, we can,” Frébort summarised.

During the opening celebrations, Rector Jaroslav Miller announced his unmitigated delight. “The Faculty of Sciences has been able to save a beautiful, historic building. I think I can say that if the university had not been successful in this, it might not have lasted another decade,” Miller said.

Architect Stašek Žerava from the Bonmot atelier confirmed that he wanted to maintain the building’s authenticity to the maximum. “One can easily see what is original and what is new construction, new design. We deliberately chose materials that would be obvious. We approached the project with great humbleness,” Žerava detailed.

In its first weekend the Fortress of Knowledge drew two thousand visitors. Jan Hluší could not wait, coming on the first day with his four-year-old great-nephew Vašek from Prostějov. “I enjoyed the model eye and brain. In our day we had nothing like this. My great-nephew is a know-it-all, he’ll like everything,” he stated.

Rector Miller hopes that the Fortress of Knowledge will be visited by children, families, and schools, and that they will enjoy seeing science presented in a popular form. “In the future they might become the pillars of the university and outstanding scientists in this country,” the rector wished.

The Fortress of Knowlege is open daily from 9 am – 5 pm, except Mondays.

Top Science in Olomouc

Even before the Fortress of Knowledge opened its doors, it was occupied by science of Olomouc origin, specifically from the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM). RCPTM Director Radek Zbořil went before the public with a lecture on popular science, where he introduced the audience to the attractive world of nanoparticles. He showed what these “little helpers with a big future” are already capable of today. They will not remain limited to today’s key applications in cleaning water by using nanofibers or ferrous nanoparticles. Nano iron is being produced today by RCPTM’s patented technology and is already being used by a number of sanitation firms in the Czech Republic and across Europe for cleaning groundwater contaminated by chlorinated hydrocarbons, heavy metals, or arsenic. There is a big future in the use of nanostructures in biotechnologies and the food processing industry. Olomouc experts are already in the advanced phase of commercial application technology of the separation of lactoferrin, an important protein with significant antimicrobial and anti-tumour activity, from cows’ milk.

RCPTM workers devote great attention to medical research. Together with experts from the Faculty of Medicine, they have revealed and described the high antibacterial and antimycotic activity of silver nanoparticles. “Their application in various layers can prevent the start of microbial coatings and infections. There has also been great interest on the part of domestic and foreign firms in several nanotechnologies used in medical diagnostics, for instance in a new method of extremely sensitive pinpointing of selected molecules in blood and urine, which should lead to early detection of a number of diseases,” Zbořil stated. And where are nanoparticles headed now? “Into multifunctional materials with the possibility of being used in several fields – for example in simultaneous diagnostics and therapy,” Zbořil enthused.

EXPOSITIONS

  • Science in the Fortress (History)
  • Logic in a Nutshell (Logic and Mathematics)
  • Living Water (Hydrobiology and Geography)
  • Light and Darkness (Physics and Optics)

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Last update: 19. 09. 2012, Vladimír Kubák