For nearly two years now, a group of Czech scientists and academics has been working on a national planetary defence strategy for the Czech Republic, funded by a government grant. The leader of the project is political scientist Dr Nikola Schmidt. Asteroids are generally perceived as the greatest threat to Earth from space and so I began by asking him what sizes of asteroids we should be worried about?
Influential scientists gathered in Prague this week to discuss the possibility of constructing a very powerful laser that would be used to propel probes to distant solar systems at extremely high speeds. Hopes are that the advanced technology developed in the HiLase laboratory in the Central Bohemian village of Dolní Břežany could be used in constructing the laser.
Wondering what a 10 billion Euro investment can do for a village? Dolní Břežany was lucky enough to find out. It now houses an EU research facility containing some of the world’s most powerful lasers. Scientists expect the centre may help in research ranging from star exploration to combating cancer. They are now working on the centre’s most powerful laser yet.
The most powerful laser in the world is now up and running on the outskirts of Prague. The HiLASE laser centre is the result of Czech-British cooperation helped with European funds. It is hoped that many of the applications that will be tested there will have an almost immediate impact in certain fields such as aeronautics, medicine, and the car industry. Others could contribute to scientific advances further down the line.
Czech and British scientists have developed an advanced, powerful laser to be used in plane manufacturing and other fields. In mid-December the laser achieved its full design performance, breaking the 1kW barrier, the first time that a high energy DPSSL system has achieved such a result. Further tests and fine tuning will continue in January. A detailed report on the laser’s parameters will be published at a press conference at the HiLASE Laser Development Centre early next year.
Heavy snowfall complicated conditions on Czech roads on Monday night, continuing into Tuesday. Downed power lines left thousands of households without electricity; energy giant ČEZ confirmed that power was down in parts of central Bohemia, including Benešov, Příbram and parts of Prague. Earlier, meteorologists said parts of the country could expect up to 20 centimetres of new snow; snowfall is expected to continue in parts of Moravia, where up to 30 centimetres are expected. The heavy and wet snow also led to fallen trees, causing delays on the country’s railway routes.
The Czech Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute has signed a contract with a US-European consortium, led by the US National Energetics company, for the development and delivery of a unique laser system for the ELI Beamlines centre. The 10-PW laser system will be one of the key technology elements of the facility. The world’s most efficient laser will produce the brightest pulses of light ever generated, with the intensity exceeding about 10 times values currently available from the existing lasers. According to the director of the Czech Academy of Sciences’ Physics Institute Jan Řídký, its costs are expected to amount to 40 million US dollars. The construction of the ELI Beamlines centre in Dolní Břežany began in 2012. The centre is set to begin operation in 2016.
In Business News this week: Český aeroholding announced it made 1.8 billion in operating profit for last year; the Senate has approved legislation which would require large stores to remain closed during state holidays; billionaire buys major Czech publisher; fruit growers have reason to be happy, citing a 25 percent jump in fruit crops.