The year 2005 has been declared the International Year of Physics by the United Nations General Assembly, to mark the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's "Miraculous Year" - in which he published his famous three papers: on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect and special relativity. Around the world, including the Czech Republic, events are being held to raise public awareness of the importance of this branch of science.
The events of the International Year of Physics kicked off at a launching conference in Paris last month where prominent physicists (including eight Nobel Prize Winners) and young students from around the world met to discuss the tasks and challenges of physics and sciences in the modern world. Among the participants was Professor Stefan Zajac, the President of the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists. He told me how Czech physicists were going to mark the year.
"We will organise a very special conference in Brno. Because we are happy that just in 1905 - the 'Annus Mirabilis', the 'Miraculous Year' of Einstein's works, was the year of birth of George Placzek who was a very good physicist co-working with great physicists of the 20th century, such as Niels Bohr, Hans Bethe, Lev Davidovich Landau and so on. George Placzek died in 1955, just in the middle of the Einstein century, and just like Einstein. Therefore we shall organise an international conference about the life and work of George Placzek."
Another conference will take place in September in the Slovak town of Kosice, where Czech and Slovak physicists will discuss recent achievements in physics and also its future development. Also, this year a variety of books on physics are being published in the Czech Republic.
"In advance we already prepared some books. Among them is for example a book by Professor [Ludmila] Eckertova describing the ways of recognising in physics in modern history. My colleague [Ivo] Kraus is preparing a book about the role of learned women in science and our colleagues at the Technical University in Brno have translated for the first time the famous book by Erwin Schroedinger 'What is Life'."
Stefan Zajac also says the general public will be made aware of the special year thanks to a special postage stamp being issued on May 25 - it commemorates Albert Einstein's introduction to the theory of relativity.
This year's International Year of Physics is sometimes called Einstein Year. There is an important connection between Albert Einstein and Prague - and that will be the topic of next week's Czech Science.
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