Magazine

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A Czech class sets a new record - 40 hours of maths straight! Want to let your hair down? Go to a pajama ball. And, star-gazing is on the rise in the Czech Republic. Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Remember how long maths lessons seemed to last when you were at school? Now think about surviving a whole day of maths or better still 40 hours straight of it. Students at the F.X. Salda secondary school in Liberec have just set a new world record in the longest maths lesson ever. Armed with coca-cola and coffee they entered the classroom for 40 hours of maths and survived it, beating the existing record, set by a Prague secondary school, by two hours. The biggest credit goes to their teacher Viteslav Penicka who sustained the maths lesson for two days and a night - talking practically non-stop. Seventeen year olds Stepan Krecek who came up with the idea said the class wanted to do something special - and also to prove that one's personal limits are much further than we know -all you need to do is put them to the test.


It started out as a whacky idea but it's now an annual event in the town of Liberec - a night on which you can let your hair down and go to a ball in your nightdress. Three years ago, when it was first held, only a few people arrived looking tentatively into the ballroom, with coats over their nightdresses just in case it was all a practical joke. But -no, it was for real because the organizers, the cloakroom attendants, the waiters and the live band were all there in their nightdresses and pajamas. That broke the ice and the ball they had was one that people talked about for months after. The following year 150 people turned up and this year over 200. People now plan their nightdress for the ball for months ahead, getting replicas of old nightdresses and nightcaps made in order to show up in something original.

Prizes are handed out for best nightdress and pyjamas - and people now bring accessories as well - favourite cushions, alarm clocks, toothbrushes and cuddly toys without which they can't go to sleep. But the best part of it is the atmosphere because nothing will break the ice so quickly as dancing with a stranger in your pajamas. By the end of the night everyone is friends with everyone else and they have tons of crazy snapshots to remember the night by. The organizer of the pajama ball Martina Rehakova says she couldn't stop them now even if she wanted to - it has become the party of the year.


If a pajama ball is just a little too wild for your taste then you can take part in the Blansko-to-Boskovice Yellow Sock Tour which is to be held on April Fool's Day. It's really taking place by the way - no practical joke - and it is open to all participants who like long treks. There's just one condition - you have to come wearing at least one yellow sock. The organizers discovered in some ancient archive materials that a yellow sock tour from Blansko to Boskovice was held in 1907 - attended among others by the well known Czech poet Petr Bezruc - and they decided to hold another yellow sock tour on the 100th anniversary of the first. Special prizes will be handed out to those who turn up in the most interesting historical costumes. Looks like Czechs always had a sense of fun.


It seems that star-gazing is on the rise in the Czech Republic and wealthier enthusiasts are building their own private observatories for that purpose. While in 1989 there were only about five private observatories in the country now there are at least thirty. According to Pavel Suchan from the Czech Academy of Sciences there are likely to be many more whose owners have not registered with the Culture Ministry, because they do not want to have to deal with the red-tape involved. People build observatories in the loft of their houses and a quality telescope is now easily affordable. So all you really need is enthusiasm - and Czechs certainly have that. Kamil Hornoch, the country's best known amateur astronomer who discovered 41 "new" stars in the Great Andromeda Galaxy, was named the world's amateur astronomer of the year in August of 2006. Hornoch received the award from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and he is the first astronomer from central and eastern Europe on whom the prize was bestowed since its introduction in 1979. Hornoch, 33, uses a CCD camera on his backyard telescope in Lelekovice, near the Moravian capital Brno. He has made thousands of visual estimates, images, and measurements of brightness - all from his backyard shed.


Czech credit card holders will now be able to get personalized credit cards - with a photograph of their children, dog, home or dream holiday. Czech banks have decided to introduce this service and the first two to make it available later this year are Komercni Banka and CSOB. Personalized credit cards are extremely popular in other EU states and Czechs can now make up for lost time. There are just two conditions that the banks will enforce - no pornographic photos and nothing that could violate ownership rights. Spending money will be that much nicer!


There are plenty of reasons why people shouldn't drink and drive - and one of them is that you could end up driving your car into an 18th century historical fountain. A fountain dating back to the 18th century is the pride of Havlickuv Brod and it stands on the town's main square. When the local police found a car practically in it they couldn't believe their eyes. "I've never seen such bad parking in my life" one of them joked. What happened is clear - the driver and company must have been so plastered that when they realized what they'd done they just ran away and left the car. It's not going to be hard to find them - not just because they left everything in it - but because the town has a security camera on its main square. I wonder if they threw a coin in the fountain for good luck.