Discovering Czech Science

Have you ever wondered what lies behind the Institute of Parasitology in Prague? The Week of Science and Technology that has just started in the Czech Republic will help you to find out and make some scientific discoveries of your own.

Czech science is being brought out from behind the laboratory doors this week in the Week of Science and Technology. Prominent Czech scientists are presenting lectures on cutting-edge research, and scientific institutes are inviting the public to take a look at their facilities. A series of films on science-related issues is also being shown in Prague by the British Council and the French Embassy as a way of presenting science to the public through accessible and varied media. Elizabeth White, the head of the British Council in Prague, maintains that a major aim of the week's events is to promote this link between science and society:

"This year we're also doing a lot more on public awareness of science, on the question of science and society and how people regard science. Whether they're afraid, whether they're worried, whether they see it as a world apart, whether young people are interested in science and whether they're going into careers in science. Whether they're going to keep up the reputation that the Czech Republic has as a centre of scientific excellence by contributing their brains to science in the Czech Republic."

The concern in attracting young people to scientific research is also shared by many Czech scientists. However, even when young people do choose to engage in scientific research, Czech science is faced with another problem: the brain drain. Helena Illnerova is the president of the Czech Academy of Sciences:

"I don't think that the brain drain is so heavy. However, let's say that about one quarter of our people stays abroad - or, in fact, would like to stay abroad forever, because of course they have to go abroad - it would not be that bad if these people were not the best, but some of them are the best, so this might be bad."

As a way of attracting the best minds of the future, scientific institutes in cities and towns all over the country are giving the Czech public a glimpse this week of their work and facilities. Perhaps a few young minds will be drawn to the sciences after the secrets of the Institute for Soil Bacteria, the Institute for Plasmatic Physics or, yes, the Institute for Parasitology, are revealed to them in all their glory.