Science news


Brno Technical University developing new space satellit,cave divers prove connection between Macocha Abyss and Punkva River, Widow of hydrogel inventor demands justice for late husband.

Brno Technical University developing new space satellite

The Technical University in Brno is developing components for a new space satellite called Phase 3E to be launched by the international organisation AMSAT. The satellite is meant to test technologies which could be used in the future in a probe sent to Mars. A team from the Institute of Radio Electronics from Brno's Technical University is working on communication equipment for the satellite which is expected to be launched into orbit in 2005.

The Institute of Radio Electronics in Brno has been involved in space research for some time. Recently it designed and produced a special receiver for the International Space Station or ISS. The predecessor of the currently developed Phase 3E satellite, called Phase 3D, has been orbiting the Earth for three years carrying components designed by the Brno team. The satellite is controlled from eight centres, one of them at Brno's Technical University.

Cave divers prove connection between Macocha Abyss and Punkva River

Cave divers, photo: CTKCave divers, photo: CTK Speleologists in the Moravian Karst have proved that the small lake at the bottom of the Macocha Abyss is connected with the underground stream Punkva which runs through a system of limestone caves and caverns. Cave divers have for the first time ever swum from the bottom of the 188 metre-deep Machocha Abyss downstream to the Pusty zleb Valley. They swam 34 metres below the surface of the water, which had a temperature of only four degrees Celsius. Speleologists have been trying to prove the existence of a connection between the lake in the abyss and the Punkva River since the beginning of the 19th century.

One blank area on the map of the underground limestone system has been explored but experts have agreed research in the Moravian Karst will continue. They are expecting to discover completely unknown large cave systems in the vicinity of the Macocha Abyss.

Widow of hydrogel inventor demands justice for late husband

And finally, it is widely known that contact lenses were invented by Czech scientist Otto Wichterle in 1961. A less-known fact is that the synthetic material later used to produce contact lenses was developed by his assistant Drahoslav Lim. Mr Lim was even awarded for his invention of hydrogels in 1966. After 1968 Drahoslav Lim was persecuted by the Czechoslovak communist authorities and left for the United States where he continued in his research and registered 150 patents. He died last August. Although the academic community recognises the importance of Mr Lim's inventions, the Czech public have never heard his name. The widow of Drahoslav Lim is trying to put things right and see to it that her late husband's name makes its way into encyclopaedias.